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Lions vs. Eagles 2013 game preview: Can Nick Foles keep the good times rolling in Philly?

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Still without an interception after throwing 19 touchdowns, can Foles lead the Eagles to their fifth win in a row or does Detroit take a big step forward towards their first NFC North title in franchise history?

Clearly there was something about the Nick Foles vs Michael Vick quarterback competition in the offseason and preseason that compelled head coach Chip Kelly to choose Vick. That's not debatable, obviously, since Vick was named the starter for Week 1 and won the battle. Whether that was his performance, his experience, or that Kelly didn't feel Foles was good enough, we may never know, but we do know this by now:

Foles has won the war.

After Vick was injured, again, it opened the door for Foles to show that he was better than his performance as a rookie under Andy Reid. Had it not been for Vick getting hurt, there is a good chance that Kelly might not have ever made the switch. Vick was posting 8.6 yards per pass attempt and 9.1 yards per carry in Kelly's offense, though Philadelphia was only 2-4 when he started.

Since Foles came into the game in relief of Vick in Week 5 against the Giants, the Eagles are 6-2 as a team and 5-0 in games that Foles has started and finished.

Now locked in a tie for first place in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia looks to keep the good times rolling under Foles and set themselves up for their first playoff appearance since 2010. The team on the other side, the Detroit Lions, can nary afford a loss either.

It's a game full of playoff implications and featuring two of the more exciting offenses in the NFL. Which team comes out on top?

Meet the Eagles

Foles is having a season for the ages. Not only has he helped spark a 1-3 team to a 7-5 record with a quarter of the season left to go, but he's doing so with some of the best numbers in the NFL. His 125.2 passer rating is the best in the league, though he still lags behind in number of attempts because he's played about half as much as most starting quarterbacks.

Still, his 19 touchdown passes against zero interceptions is something to behold. It is tied with Peyton Manning (this season) for most touchdowns without an interception to open a year.

Foles is also first in yards per attempt and third in QBR.

Not just a one-man show, running back LeSean McCoy is second in the NFL with 1,088 rushing yards and first in the league with 1,523 total yards from scrimmage. The Eagles lost receiver Jeremy Maclin before the year, but DeSean Jackson is eighth in the NFL with 1,021 yards.

If they do have a weakness, it's on defense. Nobody has allowed more passing yards than Philadelphia and that's exactly where the Lions may be looking to take advantage.

Meet the Lions

If you think Foles' numbers are amazing, take a look at Calvin Johnson. Just shield your eyes from the blinding greatness.

Johnson has 72 catches for 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns, leading the league for the third year in a row despite missing one game. Since the start of the 2011 season, Johnson has 4,944 yards, 33 touchdowns, and has gone over 200 yards five times. With 40 more yards, he will pass Herman Moore as the franchise's all-time leading receiver.

Detroit finds itself at 7-5 and leading the Chicago Bears by a game with four left to go, but since they swept Chicago during the year, really they have a virtual two-game lead. If the Lions can beat the Eagles on Sunday, they'll have a stranglehold on the NFC North division.

The Lions have not hosted a playoff game since 1991.

Local Takes: Philadelphia Eagles

Matt Harkenreader of Bleeding Green Nation takes a look at Philly's rise in the power rankings and their current playoff picture:

The Eagles are up to ninth now, mostly thanks to their improved play on defense and their turnover ratio, which is now in the top 10 in the league. This is similar to other power rankings across the Internet. They are still very much a work in progress, but the big takeaway here is that they should be competitive for the remainder of their rather unfriendly schedule. This is going to be huge as they try to position themselves for a playoff run. Sounds like a good segue into the playoff picture, doesn't it? I thought so.

Local Takes: Detroit Lions

The Lions could win the NFC North for the first time in their history, according to Sean Yuille from Pride of Detroit:

With only four games to play, the NFC North is the Lions' division to lose. As noted by Michael David Smith, regardless of what the Bears and Packers do, the Lions will win the NFC North if they win three of their final four games. What's more, if the Lions beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, they could be in position to clinch on Monday night in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens if the Bears and Packers each lose a game in the next two weeks.

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Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Bleeding Green NationPride of Detroit, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

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Both teams are 7-5, but the Lions beating the Eagles won't immediately have any direct affect on their playoff seedings. As it currently stands, Detroit is in position for the No.3 seed and the Cowboys lead the NFC East with a 7-5 record, but hold the tiebreaker over Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the Lions beat Dallas so hold the head-to-head tiebreaker there, too.

If the Eagles beat Detroit and the Cowboys lose, then Philly will move into first place in the East and also move up to the No. 3 seed. If the Lions win, then the Eagles will remain in second place in the East, but Detroit obviously won't move down. It could possibly have some implications by Week 17, though it could only really shake up the playoffs if Philadelphia wins and the Cowboys lose. Will the Eagles win?

Despite a 5-1 road record, Philly is just 2-4 at home. However, those problems in their own stadium seem to have evaporated as Foles has heated up and they've won their last two games there. The Lions are a respectable 3-3 on the road this year, but have been very inconsistent. Will Johnson be able to do enough against this secondary to eek out a win, or does the Foles miracle march on?

The latter seems slightly more plausible, given recent history.

Eagles 31, Lions 28


The Eagles are 2.5-point favorites, according to The Lions are 6-6 against the spread, while Philly is 6-5-1.

Next Week

Detroit heads home to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, while the Eagles travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Sunday.

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