With the Detroit Lions set to take on the Atlanta Falcons in London, the Sidelion Report staff gives their take on what they see for the game ahead.
Braden Shackelford – The Lions may be without offensive weapons Reggie Bush, Joe Fauria, Eric Ebron and (likely) Calvin Johnson on Sunday, but this is a different Lions’ team. The defense has been playing exceptionally well and the Falcons offensive line is in shambles right now which should make it difficult for Matt Ryan to find his big play threat in Julio Jones down the field.
I expect the Falcons to be one dimensional on offense and relatively quiet while the Lions’ offense puts just enough points on the board to get their first win in London. Prediction: Lions win 24-13
Max DeMara – The Falcon’s can’t stop the run. The Lions can’t run the football. Something’s gotta give, and in this case, considering the skill of Joique Bell and Reggie Bush who have yet to have breakout games, it’s Atlanta’s defense. Offensively, Detroit does whatever they want most of the day, and defensively, looks much better against Matt Ryan and company. Detroit 34, Atlanta 14
Alex Reno – My prediction is an unpopular one, but I really feel like this is a game that screams “trap!” if there ever was one. You may think the Lions will have an easy time with this game, but you have to consider how they got there. If Calvin Johnson is unable to play, they aren’t going to have an easy time in London.
The Lions will likely be without their top three tight ends, and may have to run with newly acquired Kellen Davis and Jordan Thompson. I think this matchup will have a similar start as last week’s bout against the Saints, but this time, Stafford and company will be unable to magically pull out another fourth quarter comeback. The Lions suffer their third loss of the season at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 20-17.
Kent Platte – As much as I tried to play devil’s advocate and come up with a potential reason the Lions could blow this game against the floundering Falcons, I couldn’t do it. Even with Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush likely sidelined again, even with a street FA at tight end, even with LaAdrian Waddle potentially missing another game, the Detroit Lions are simply the better team at nearly every position. The Falcons haven’t been able to stop anyone on defense, while conversely they have struggled against much weaker defenses than the one they face this weekend. Part of me thinks this might come to a similar start as the Saints game did, the Falcons are a much worse team and this one should end up a blow out. Not a big one, but I’m thinking in the realm of 24-7 Lions over Falcons in London.
Darin Ackerman – The 2-5 Falcons have virtually imploded so far this season, with fans starting to clamor for a front office shake up. Having four consecutive double-digit losses, it seems unlikely that Atlanta will be able to get by the Lions’ top-ranked defense. Lacking any semblance of a running game (perhaps they should consider utilizing rookie Devonta Freeman more), QB Matt Ryan will be forced to pass. Once again, the Lions’ defensive front will use this to their advantage, looking to add to their 21 sacks and eight interceptions so far this season. The Lions’ d-line will have to provide the pressure if they don’t want the talented Jones and White to have huge games against the secondary.
Look for Corey Fuller and Golden Tate to shine for the Lions, which shouldn’t be too hard against the abysmal Falcon defense. The one weak spot for the Lions would be if LaAdrian Waddle can’t play on Sunday. The Lions’ o-line hasn’t been stellar this season and even worse when Waddle was out last month. They need to come up with consistent pass protection and run blocking if the Lions have any shot in the playoffs. Prediction: Lions 24, Atlanta 13.
Zac Snyder – Matt Ryan is doing the best he can as one of the top quarterbacks on the year according to Pro Football Focus, but the offense is really held back by poor offensive line play. Injuries have been devastating in part but rookie Jake Matthews has been downright terrible. The Lions defensive line should be in for a feast and the Falcons defense doesn’t have what it takes to win if this turns into a defensive battle. Lions 27, Falcons 20