Preview of the Falcons at the Lions

Coming off of an impressive 34-0 win over the New York Giants the Falcons hope to continue their surge into the playoffs this week against the 4-10 Detroit Lions. The Falcons’ defense will need to show up to play in this game if they hope to contain the league’s best passing offense. The Detroit Lions average 302.1 yards per game through the air and can run the ball effectively as well. It will be up to the Falcons’ defense to remain opportunistic and force miscues from the Lions’ offense which comes in with a -9 turnover differential.
As Calvin Johnson goes so goes the Lions’ offense. If the Falcons can contain Johnson, either by playing careful matchups or preventing Matt Stafford from throwing the ball downfield, they have a good opportunity to prevent the Lions from being able to move the ball effectively. The Lions’ offense is effective though, averaging nearly 24 points per game, and will prove quite a test for Mike Nolan’s defense. By using a stable of backs the Lions can also pose a threat in the running game; their rushing offense averages 104.4 yards per game. The Falcons will need to not lose sight of stopping the run while trying to contain Calvin Johnson.
The Lions’ defense matches up fairly well with the Falcons’ offense too. The Lions’ defensive strength is in the center of their defensive line led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly. As we all know, the Falcons’ offensive line can be shaky at times and there is a chance that the Lions will be able to bring pressure up the middle on Matt Ryan as he drops back to pass or shut down the running game inside of the tackles. If the Lions’ defensive line does begin to put pressure on the passing game and stops the run, I look for the Falcons to put in a shotgun package that includes Jason Snelling as the back. I feel that Snelling is the best blocking back that Atlanta has and will be used to slow down the Lions’ pass rush if need be. I don’t believe that the Lions will be able to maintain this pressure for the entire game and expect the Falcons to be able to open up the playbook as the game goes along. I expect another win for the Falcons and the final score to be 35-21.

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