The Atlanta Falcons host the Detroit Lions Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and one intriguing matchup will be the Falcons defensive front versus the Detroit offensive line.
Detroit's offensive line starters are:
LT Taylor Decker
LG O'Day Aboushi
C Frank Ragnow
RG Jonah Jackson (R)
RT Tyrell Crosby
The Lions offensive line has lifted them to become pretty good in the run game this season, with their backs tallying 587 yards rushing through five games. That total represents the second-most rushing yards for the Lions since 1998 when some guy named Barry Sanders was running the ball for Detroit.
Former University of Georgia running back D'Andre Swift had his first 100-yard rushing game for the Lions in their win over Jacksonville last week. Swift also scored two touchdowns in that game. And the Lions did this with several of their offensive linemen going in and out of the lineup due to the Florida heat and humidity.
The Falcons defense may be next-to-last in the NFL in yards allowed (432 ypg) while surrendering 30 points per game, but the run defense has been solid.
The Falcons defense, led by linebacker Foye Oluokun with 29 tackles, has not allowed a rushing touchdown since Sept. 20 at Dallas. They also have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
The two players who came close to rushing for 100 yards against Atlanta were Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas and Mike Davis of Carolina, who had 89 yards each. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was the last player to rush for a touchdown against Atlanta and that was a month ago.
The edge seems to favor the Falcons in this particular matchup, at least when it comes to stopping the run. Atlanta has two goal-line stands this year and even though the Lions boast a decent trio in Swift, Kerryon Johnson and fading star veteran Adrian Peterson, it's not likely they will run for huge yards against Atlanta. The Falcons have to limit big third-down runs from that trio, which means getting penetration against the Detroit line.
The Falcons will have to be the better unit against the pass if they want to help secure the win. Atlanta defensive tackle Grady Jarrett leads the team with 2.5 sacks and with the Falcons so porous against the pass, they will have to do their best to bring down Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The lack of sacks and consistent pressure has hurt the Falcons all season.
The good news for the Falcons is they may get defensive end Takk McKinley back in the lineup Sunday, as he was listed as questionable on the team's injury report. If McKinley plays, the Falcons will be at full strength in the front seven.