The Detroit Lions are set to face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday for the NFL’s second London matchup of the year. It will be scheduled as a home game for the Falcons, who could use as many true home games as they can get since they’ve been one of the worst road teams in the NFL as of late. The Falcons are 1-11 in their last 12 road games including 0-4 this year.
In their last meeting, the Falcons defeated the Lions pretty easily by the score of 31-18 and improved to 13-2 on the season. The Lions didn’t have much to play for at 5-11, but the Stafford and Megatron connection was stronger then ever.
Stafford threw for 448 yards in their loss and 225 of those yards went to Calvin Johnson. The Lions could use some of that magic as they pray for Megatron’s return.
It will be another tough test for Detroit’s #1 ranked defense going up against Atlanta’s #6 ranked offense. The Falcons average 289.6 passing yards per game which is good for fifth in the NFL. The Lions have done a solid job defending the pass, but they haven’t seen a team with a receiving corps like the Falcons.
Defensively, the Falcons head into this Sunday’s meeting as the 30th ranked defense allowing 412.1 total yards per game. They are also allowing the most passing yards per attempt in the NFL at 8.5 YPA.
DT Jonathan Babineaux – Foot – Questionable
WR Harry Douglas – Foot – Questionable
OG Justin Blalock – Back – Probable
WR Julio Jones – Ankle – Probable
LB Prince Shembo – Knee – Probable
The Detroit Lions are a three point favorite via Vegas Insider.
Keys To Winning
The Lions will need to find a way to pressure Matt Ryan and soften the blow through the air if they want to win this matchup. According to Pro Football Focus, Falcons’ rookie left tackle Jake Matthews is the worst graded tackle in the NFL with a -27.8 overall grade. Yes, that’s even worse than Matt Kalil who was abused by Ezekiel Ansah two weeks ago.
Here’s another stat for you. Matt Ryan has been sacked at an average time of 2.78 seconds per sack. That is the quickest in the NFL, and not many quarterbacks come close to that. The Lions will have to mix in various blitz packages like we’re prone to seeing, and get to Ryan as quickly as possible.
This matchup screams “trap game” if there ever was one. On paper the Lions should win this game no problem, but something tells me this is just one of those games where we lose one we shouldn’t have.
I think we’ll see a similar start to the game as we did last week against the Saints, with the only difference being that Stafford and the offense fails to pull out another fourth quarter comeback.
Final Score: Falcons 20 – Lions 17