If you’re going to want to watch the Detroit Lions play this weekend, you’ll have to set your alarm clocks for early Sunday morning. Kickoff in Michigan will come just after 9:30 a.m. live from London.
While you might be busy knocking the sleep out of your eyes at home and grabbing a few cups of coffee to freshen up, the players will likely be well-adjusted to the time change and ready to knock helmets, rendering the usual match-ups as important as a regular season home or road game.
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Glancing across the statistical ledger this week, there are plenty of ways to go as it relates to identifying one key area to monitor, but one sticks out like a sore thumb. Atlanta’s run defense, ranked 32nd in the league, going up against Detroit’s rush offense, ranked 29th in the league.
The Falcons have given up 964 total yards and 13 touchdowns so far on the turf in 2014, while Detroit has only collected 577 yards and scored six touchdowns on the ground.
As the old saying goes, something’s gotta give.
Detroit running back Joique Bell should like to see that, specifically the Falcons’ propensity for give up long runs and chunks of yardage. Their defensive line hasn’t gotten the job done this season, and they’ve been gauged in several games. Statistically, in losses, the worst have been against the Minnesota Vikings, (241 yards, four touchdowns), Cincinnati Bengals (170 yards, two touchdowns) and Baltimore Ravens (123 yards, one touchdown).
Even in both of their wins the Falcons have been slammed on the ground, allowing a total of 203 total yards and three scores in both games.
That’s good news for Bell, a power runner who goes in between the tackles for tough yardage. The Lions have tried in vain to over-establish Bell in recent weeks, but the Falcons inability to stop anyone on the ground, much less a power back, should figure in huge to the entire game plan Sunday morning.
The Lions have tried in vain to over-establish Bell in recent weeks, but the Falcons inability to stop anyone on the ground, much less a power back, should figure in huge to the entire game plan Sunday morning.
A solid afternoon from Bell could make everything else extremely easy for Detroit. Matthew Stafford would have more time to survey the field and pick on Atlanta’s similarly miserable secondary, distributing the ball to Golden Tate, Jeremy Ross and Corey Fuller. Quicker play action looks could also become easy to find for tight end Brandon Pettigrew.
In short, the Lions could finally have a match up advantage worth exploiting for the entire game, even with all the recent problems of their run game and a banged up offensive line. If Bell, a punishing back in the mold of others who have enjoyed success against the Falcons gets going downhill, it could be a bloody bad day for Atlanta.
London has Big Ben, and perhaps appropriately, during their trip across the pond, Detroit also has a Bell capable of attracting plenty of attention. How he’s able to run for a team determined to establish him likely tells the tale about the success of the Lions’ European business trip.