Ford Field is the next venue for the 12-2 Falcons as they will face the 4-10 Detroit Lions. The Falcons are coming off one of their most convincing wins of their entire 2012-13 campaign. A game that saw Atlanta dominate the Giants in all three phases of the game, holding Eli Manning and their offense to zero points. The Giants haven’t been shutout out of a regular-season contest since 1996, and it’s the first time in Eli’s career (regular-season) that he couldn’t put any points on the board.
After a win this big, teams tend to relax a bit, but the Falcons got that lesson out of the way during the Carolina game.
“I think we learned our lesson from the Carolina game,” said Michael Turner. “We are not taking anything for granted. We’ve still got work to do. We’ve still got things to get better at. They are going to give us their best shot. We know that.”
If the Falcons can win in Detroit, they’ll lock in the top seed in the NFC. Some analysts out there are thinking upset though, which is natural when you think about Detroit’s talent. They’re on a 6-game losing streak, maybe they could put it together for one game and steal a win, like Carolina did a couple weeks ago.
While the Falcons have played a few ‘lesser’ opponents this season, they did have a habit of letting teams stay in games. The Raiders, Arizona, and the Redskins each stayed in the game until a last-minute drive by Matt Ryan put them away. But, after watching the Giants game, they have shown this is a different team than what they were earlier in the season. As talented as the Lions are, I think they are a inexperienced team. They’ve struggled with discipline (Penalties and Legal) problems all season, and when they face a strong pass defense (Like Arizona’s) they struggle mightily.
The Lions best shot won’t be enough to keep them in this game. Looking at Detroit’s individual player stats, while Calvin Johnson is approaching 1,800 yards, no other receiver on the team has over 600 yards. Stafford has all the tools to be a star QB, but he hasn’t figured out how to spread the ball around. CJ has over 70 more targets than the 2nd leading reciever on the team. That could be attributed to the fact that the Lions don’t have a true #2 threat out side of Johnson. Still, if throwing the ball only to CJ hasn’t won any games in the past, it surely won’t pay dividends against Atlanta.
Atlanta has only allowed one 100-yard receiving game outside the NFC South (Moore from Oakland). Not saying they’re a lock to hold Megatron to under a hundred yards, but he isn’t a lock to have a monster game either. Nolan is great at disguising coverages, and if Stafford plans on forcing the ball to Megatron, he may have another multi-interception game.
Looking at Detroit’s defense, one thing that jumps out is how many points they allow a game. They rank 28th in the league in that category. This is the same defense that allowed the Cardinals….The offensively-anemic Cardinals, to put up 38 points last week. Now, they face a Atlanta squad that’s top-10 in points scored. If Matt Ryan wants to pad his stats and put this game away early, he will definitely have a chance to. The only two threats the Lions have on defense is Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril, but that pass-rush threat can be negated easily if our receivers get open quick off the snap.
Hopefully Mike Smith will have his team ready to dominate from the coin toss. We need to put this team away as quickly as possible to rest some of our starters. The top-seed is ours for the taking. Don’t play with this Lions squad and put them away early.
Playoffs….Here we come.
*Quotes courtesy of Atlanta Falcons.com. Stats courtesy of NFL.com