Eagles hoping to halt 'panic' with win at Detroit

DETROIT (AP) There won't be any mud puddles on the field when the Detroit Lions host Philadelphia this Thanksgiving. No snow, either.

These two teams - who have a bit of a history of bad-weather games - will play indoors in the comfortable confines of Ford Field, where Chip Kelly's offense (and that of his opponent) can operate unencumbered by any wintery elements.

After two straight losses, the Eagles are still only a game out of first place in the NFC East, but a loss at Detroit on Thursday would leave Kelly and his team facing even more criticism in what's been a trying season so far. Kelly's third year as Philadelphia's coach has been the most difficult, but there's still time to salvage it.

''I think sometimes people panic and throw the baby out with the bathwater,'' Kelly said. ''I think we have a really good football team, and I'm very confident in those football players.''

The Eagles (4-6) still have one of the higher-ranked offenses in the league - they're eighth in yards per game - but the defense unraveled last weekend in a 45-17 loss to Tampa Bay. Detroit (3-7) isn't exactly humming along offensively. The Lions have won two in a row, but scored only 18 points in each of those games.

Philadelphia hasn't played at Detroit on Thanksgiving since 1968, when the Eagles won 12-0 at Tiger Stadium in a game remembered largely for its muddy conditions. The last time the teams met anywhere was in December 2013, when the Eagles won 34-20 during a Philadelphia snowstorm.

Here are a few things to watch in Thursday's matchup:

QUARTERBACK UNCERTAINTY: Philadelphia's Sam Bradford passed through his concussion protocol, but has still been bothered by an issue with his non-throwing shoulder. Mark Sanchez played last weekend against Tampa Bay and threw three interceptions.

GROUND GAME: Detroit is last in the league in rushing, so in that sense, this game could be a reprieve for the beleaguered Philadelphia defense. But the Lions do have rookie RB Ameer Abdullah, who has shown flashes of talent amid fumbling problems. Detroit's Theo Riddick had a solid game against Oakland last weekend, but he looks more effective as a pass catcher than a runner.

TURNING IT AROUND: The Lions had lost nine consecutive Thanksgiving games before winning their past two against Green Bay and Chicago. No matter how badly the season is going - and there have been some rough ones in Detroit - the city always appreciates its holiday football showcase.

''I love playing it,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ''As I get older, it's harder to get physically ready for it. I feel like I feel the hits a little bit more, but I enjoy playing in it.''

UNDER PRESSURE: Philadelphia's passers have a league-worst 60.9 rating in blitz situations, so the best way to slow the Eagles down may be with aggression on passing downs. Of course, Philadelphia has its own way of exerting pressure - the quick pace of its offense makes it harder for opponents to substitute.

''You have to make some adjustments,'' Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ''Every game is going to create some of those issues. The Packers do some of it sometimes, they pick up the pace, and obviously the Bears have done some. We've bumped into some teams that have had that within their package.''

TURNOVERS: The Lions have an NFL-worst turnover differential of minus-10. After forcing 19 turnovers in the first seven games, the Eagles have only three takeaways in their past three games.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.