3 things to watch for as the Eagles return to field against Lions

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Historically, over the lifespans of the past three Eagles coaches, Philly is one of the NFL’s best teams off the bye.

After relaxing, going home or hunting — as Carson Wentz spent his week off — the Eagles are back in action Sunday at 1 p.m. and get another break from the schedule as they travel to Detroit to face the lowly Lions.

The 1-3 Lions are one week away from failing to score a touchdown against the drearily bad Bears and the 3-0 Eagles are 3.5 point favorites on the road.

Here are three things to think about leading up to the Week 5 battle:

Fresh Birds


“We don’t have any, so that’s a great thing going into this football game,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said.

Zach Ertz, Leodis McKelvin and other wounded Eagles have practiced this week and are all expected to play in Week 5. This is particularly good news regarding tight end Ertz, who will no doubt be an asset for rookie quarterback Wentz.

He’ll also have the chance to put up big numbers against the worst defense in the NFL against tight ends this season. Running back Ryan Mathews is expected to play as well.

Establishing the run

Mathews, as previously mentioned, will play Sunday after sitting out Week 3 despite being listed as active. He’s been nursing an ankle injury but according to the Eagles staff, he’ll be the featured back against the Lions.

“Ryan is still our primary guy,” Doug Pederson said.”He’s our go-to guy. He’s 100 percent and we go with Ryan and we mix the other guys in according to play or game plan.”

The Eagles have run the ball OK, but not great with most of their yardage compiled after building big leads and running down the clock. Expect to see more running earlier, including the occasional Wentzrun.

“I think you’ve got a guy like Carson who’s a dynamic athlete, and the threat of him running is as much a weapon for us as anything else,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said when asked about designed plays for Wentz to use his legs.

Lion taming

The Eagleshave impressively handled the Steelers’ high-powered defense along with the Bears’ and Browns’ top offensive weapons and will once again look to put up a solid effort against the Lions.

“I like watching Stafford [Lions QB Matthew Stafford] play,” Pederson said. “I think he’s a good quarterback. Golden Tateand Anquan Boldin is a smart, veteran guy. It can be a situation where if they get on a little bit of a roll it’s hard to stop them. And their run game — obviously with any team — becomes really important.”

The Eagles have allowed the third least rushing yards per game so far, and lead the NFL in points allowed per game with nine.

“Defensively, very similar style of defense like we play with those wide defensive ends,” Pederson continued, assessing the Lions.”It’s a get up the field. It’s an attack mentality. The benefit to it is that we see it every day in practice, so we’re used to this style. But the same time, they are aggressive and it’s something you see from them every week.”

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