2014 Week 8 Preview Detroit Lions Versus Atlanta Falcons




The Detroit Lions face off against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday morning in London, England at 9:30am eastern time.  It’s a game that promises to be exciting given that Atlanta has two very good receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones.  While they are having an off year this year, they are still explosive and will give the number one Detroit Lions defense problems all day.  This is a very scary game for Lions fans.  Atlanta’s offense has historically been good.  This year, they have struggled mightily leading them to a 2-5 record.  I believe Atlanta’s better than their record though, which makes this game interesting.  With Detroit having a bye next week, they could come out playing hard hoping to win big, or they could come out flat knowing that the bye week is next.  Either way, it should be a fun game to watch.

 

OFFENSE

  • Detroit Lions Offensive Line vs. Atlanta Falcons Defensive Line –  The Falcons defensive line has 7 sacks on the season.  That is 2 less than the New Orleans Saints who had a poor pass rush prior to the Lions game.  Falcons fans feel like their pass rush has hindered them defensively this season and I tend to agree.  With players like Biermann, Jackson, Babineaux, and Hagerman without a sack this season, and Umenyiora with only one on the season, it looks like the pass rush is virtually non-existent. Speaking of non-existent, the Lions pass protection is pretty much the same.  Stafford has been sacked more in 7 games this season than in 16 last season.  The Saints pass rush was weak all season and they registered three Stafford sacks last week.  I expect the Falcons to get a few sacks, but not have a game changing pass rush.   Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Tight Ends vs. Atlanta Falcons Linebackers – Atlanta’s linebackers are not very good. Their issues at defensive line are likely a contributor to that.  Injuries have also slowed them at the position.  Keep in mind though that Detroit has three injured tight ends and none of the three have practiced yet this week. With Fauria and Ebron likely out for one more week, the only tight end that started the season on the active roster with a chance at playing is Brandon Pettigrew and he is going to likely be a game time decision at this rate.  Its hard to imagine Jordan Thompson and Kellen Davis lighting up the scoreboard.   Edge Falcons
  • Detroit Lions Wide Receivers vs. Atlanta Falcons Secondary –  This is by far the toughest offensive call for the Lions.  If Calvin Johnson Plays, the Lions have the edge.  If he does not, the Falcons will line up Desmond Trufant over Golden Tate all say and wait to see if Corey Fuller and Jeremy Ross can beat their other defensive backs.  Johnson has practiced all week, and he’s running and cutting better.  I see him being questionable up until game time and ultimately sitting this one out.  Still though, if Tate can get free, the Lions can put up some points on this defense.  Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Running Backs vs. Atlanta Falcons Run Defense – Atlanta’s run defense is terrible.  They are allowing 137.7 rush yards per game on average.  The Detroit run game is also garbage.  They have yet to open holes for Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to run through.  Still though, with one of the worst run defenses in the league facing a team that desperately wants to run the ball, I have to believe they could break out this week.  Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Quarterbacks vs. Atlanta Falcons Pass DefenseMatthew Stafford has thrown some interceptions, but not at an alarming rate.  He seems improved at reading coverages, adjusting play calls, and avoiding mistakes, regardless of the relentless pressure he’s gotten.  Atlanta’s pass defense is 4th from last in the NFL, just below the Saints’ defense the Lions faced last week.  While Detroit has not been world beaters on offense, they are better than their statistics show.  If Johnson returns, it only gets better.  With so many injuries at tight end, we may finally see Ryan Broyles more and if so, I expect a stellar performance from him.  That only happens though if he gets 20 or more offensive snaps.  Edge Lions

 

DEFENSE

  • Detroit Lions Defensive Line vs. Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line – Atlanta’s offensive line has been a mess.  They have injuries all over the line and it is to the point where Falcons fans cant keep track of who is actually healthy and who is playing hurt.  The Lions defensive line has been nothing short of stellar all season.  They have maintained a constant pass rush and stopped the run against every opponent to this point.  They are number two in the NFL in run defense and tied for 3rd most sacks.  A good offensive line will have its hands full against this unit.  The Falcons see this match up as a nightmare.  Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Linebackers vs. Atlanta Falcons Tight Ends – This is probably the best match up for Detroit outside of the defensive line.  With the retirement of Tony Gonzales, the Falcons do not have a true game breaker at tight end.  They have solid role players at tight end, but they have moved to a more receiver focused offense at this point.  DeAndre Levy and Tahir Whitehead can handle the pass coverage here.   Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Secondary vs. Atlanta Falcons Wide Receivers – There is no doubting the Lions pass defense has been very good this season.  They showed some cracks against the Saints though and I expect Atlanta to exploit those.  Roddy White and Julio Jones are great receivers.  Add in there the nightmare of Devin Hester with the ball in space and this is the making of a long night.  Edge here is definitely going to Atlanta   Edge Falcons
  • Detroit Lions Run Defense vs. Atlanta Falcons Running Backs –  Steven Jackson is the Falcon’s leader in rushing but he is off to a poor start to the season.  He is averaging 3.7 yards per carry which is not going to get it done against a stout Lions defense.  Antone Smith is the wild card.  He’s averaging 8.5 yards per carry, but he is not getting very many attempts. I think the Lions can easily handle Jackson and keep their top 5 run defense this week.   Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Pass Defense vs. Atlanta Falcons Quarterbacks –  Matt Ryan is a good quarterback and he has played pretty well this season so far.  That being said, he’s been sacked a lot and has thrown 7 interceptions so far this season.  If the Lions can get the same kind of pass rush they did against the Vikings, Ryan will falter and this game will be handed to the Lions.  I do not see them getting the same production though.  I see about 3-5 sacks at the most this week.  Because Matt Ryan will not be held under 200 passing yards this week, Atlanta gets the edge.  Edge Falcons

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Jeremy Ross has been quiet all season.  He’s a quality return man but he is not having any breakout returns.  Devin Hester is a world class return man.  I cannot see any way to give the Lions the edge here.   Edge Falcons

 

TOTALS

Lions 7 Falcons 4

This is a game that the Lions should win.  Just because they should does not mean they will.  They are enjoying their stay in London so far, and Jim Caldwell has done everything he can to make sure the travel is not affecting his team.  This game could be lost due to overconfidence by the Lions or it could be won with solid football.  I really worry that the Lions could lose this game, but I am going with the statistics and giving them the win.

Detroit Lions 20 Atlanta Falcons 17



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