ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Detroit coach Jim Schwartz offered one obvious antidote to Philadelphia's fast-paced offense, which his Lions will try to contain this weekend.
"Three and out," Schwartz said, before adding the obvious qualifier.
"That's easier said than done."
After a dominating performance on Thanksgiving against Green Bay, the Detroit defense heads to Philadelphia to face the Eagles on Sunday. Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy has already rushed for 1,088 yards this season, and Nick Foles has thrown for 19 touchdowns with no interceptions.
The Eagles' up-tempo, no-huddle offense is designed to put pressure on the opposing team. It could be a particularly big test for Detroit, which has built its defense around a powerful defensive line.
"I look forward to it," defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "Substitutions may be a little bit of an issue, but I don't think it's going to affect us at all. ... We have seen teams that like to do it. Pittsburgh did a little bit of it as our last more recent experience against a really fast and up-tempo type team."
Suh and the rest of Detroit's defensive line looked terrific against the Packers, leading the Lions to a 40-10 win last Thursday that might not have been as close as the score indicated. Detroit (7-5) leads the NFC North, while the Eagles (7-5) are tied with Dallas atop the NFC East.
So this matchup offers major playoff implications — in addition to the intriguing contrast of speed against strength.
"Obviously very, very physical, starting with the defensive line," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "Right at the point of attack they can create obviously a lot of disruption."
Once the Eagles find a rhythm offensively, they seem to become even harder to stop because of their pace. Obviously, the Lions will hope to end Philadelphia's drives before McCoy, Foles and Co. get rolling.
"Hard to be up-tempo if it's one, two, three and punt," Schwartz said.
The problem: The Eagles have gone three and out on only 18 percent of their drives, the fourth-best mark in the NFL.
"We're going to have our hands full. They have a great running back, so first and foremost we have to stop the run. That's something that we always want to do no matter who we are facing," Suh said. "Then obviously we see that they have given up some sacks and we want to be able to have an opportunity to do that."
Philadelphia has been sacked 35 times, but whatever pressure opposing defenses have managed doesn't seem to be forcing Foles into very many mistakes. Foles has a passer rating of 125.2, easily the league's best mark.
"They run the same stuff that they ran with Michael Vick at quarterback," Schwartz said. "Foles is a different kind of quarterback in there, but that hasn't stopped them from running anything that they ran early in the season with Michael Vick. They have executed their offense well. They have run the ball and avoided turnovers."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org