The Detroit Lions will finally play a game of importance on Sunday when they welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to Ford Field. Anticipation is high for the start of the 2022 season, and the Lions will have a tall task with the Eagles. Let's take a closer look at the opening week matchup, along with a profoundly thought-out prediction by someone rocking a blue mustache from all the pre-season Kool-Aid I've consumed.
First, let's take a look at the villains of Week One, those Eagles from the city of brotherly love. Philadelphia has a passionate fan base with high hopes for the team's 2022 campaign, and for good reason. The Eagles finished last season 9-8 under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni, winning four of their last five regular-season games. The Eagles ran into a Tom Brady-led Buccaneers team in the playoffs that sent the team packing early. However, new additions to the offensive have the team and the fan base expecting a higher ceiling for the 2022 team.
The offense will be led by third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, who will likely finish with far more than the 16 TD passes he finished with in 2021. Hurts' has a potential two-headed monster out wideout this season with former Heisman winner DeVonta Smith complimenting the newly acquired A.J. Brown. One would expect Philadelphia to really test the Lions' secondary early and often with weapons like Dallas Godeort and Zach Pascal complimenting the top targets in Smith and Brown.
The Eagles' run game will be no slouch for a Lions defense that has struggled to stop any run game with a pulse. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has the Lions' run defense as the worst in the league, which puts the Eagles' offense in an incredible place to open a balanced playbook. Lions' newcomer Aidan Hutchinson will have to grow quickly and become a staple in the backfield to put pressure on a stellar run block team like the Eagles.
Darius “Big Play” Slay will make his triumphant return to Detroit, leading the Eagles' defense into battle. PFF has the Eagles' defense in the middle of the pack, ranked 17th after their 2021 campaign. The Eagles will also be looking at improvements in their run defense as the team will look to grizzled veteran Fletcher Cox to be an All-Pro run stopper one more time in his illustrious career. The Lions' have high hopes for D'Andre Swift this season, and what better way to start the year than abusing a weak run defense?
Now let's talk about the good guys. I will stand on this hill until I'm proven wrong, and then I'll probably still argue that I'm right; the Lions' wide receiver unit will be the best in the NFC North, and Jared Goff will prosper far more in 2022 because of it. With the list of DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds, a soon-to-be healthy Jameson Williams, and our lord and savior Sun God, Amon-Ra St. Brown, the Lions will absolutely be looking to let it fly more than fans are accustoming to seeing.
As I previously mentioned with the run game, Swift and Jamaal Williams will more than likely split time in the backfield, which is to be expected. Swift will feel the pressure in his third year as coaches in theLions' locker room and around the league expect a healthy Swift to take over the NFL. I am on the Swift bandwagon and will ride it until the wheels implode or until we send out “I told you so” to all the nonbelievers.
No coordinator in the entire league got more out of his talent than Lions' defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn did in the 2021 season. Glenn's squad comes back this season hungry and with the addition of a 1st round immediate help in Hutchinson. I spoke of the horrendous run defense from 2021, but the Lions' pass defense wasn't much better, ranking at 28th overall. Finding quarterback pressure was extremely hard to come by for the team, an area that has to see improvement this season.
I have drunk more Kool-Aid than any Lions fan could drink without adding diabetes to my list of health concerns. I watch Dan Campbell's press conferences regularly and would go to war if he ever decided to choose unathletic fans to fight his battles. Having said all of that, I believe the improvements an already playoff-contending Eagles team has made will be too much for the Lions to overcome to start this season.
An already beaten-down offensive line for the Lions will be a massive factor in the Eagles winning this football game. With All-Pro center Frank Ragnow more than likely joining Halapoulivaati Vaitai on the out list, it could be too hard of a task for the team to overcome. I will not let my brain deter my heart from being excited for the start of the season, but if you're putting me on the record, I have the Eagles taking home the W, 24-20.