How do the Atlanta Falcons stack up against the Detroit Lions?
The Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions will square off in week seven of the upcoming NFL season, and if the previous two matchups are any indication fans will be in for some late-game fireworks.
The two teams last played during the 2017 season back in Detroit. The Falcons won the game 30-26, but it didn’t come without controversy. The Lions were driving and Matthew Stafford threw what was called at the time a game-winning touchdown to receiver Golden Tate. However, since all scoring plays are reviewed, it was determined that Tate was touched by a defender before breaking the goal line. The clock was stopped due to the review it required a 10-second runoff and the Lions didn’t have any timeouts the game was over.
Fast forward to the present day and both teams are coming off of disappointing 2019 campaigns. The Falcons started last year 1-7 before rallying in the second half to finish 7-9. Detroit, on the other hand, felt good after a 3-4-1 start but Stafford suffered broken bones in his back that wound up sideling him for the rest of the season.
Both teams added several pieces that they hope will make a major impact this season. Let’s see how they stack up.
Stafford was playing at an MVP level in the first season with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell before suffering a season-ending back injury. In eight games he threw for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Stafford developed a strong connection with receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. The former was a third-round pick out of Northern Illinois in 2017. Last year he established himself as the teams no. 1 receiver catching 65 passes for 1190 yards and 11 touchdowns, which led the league.
Without a clear No. 1 cornerback right now Stafford and the Lions receivers could have a nice day on the Falcons secondary.
Head coach Matt Patricia wants the team to establish the run, but they have struggled mightily so far in his tenure. The team drafted Kerryon Johnson in 2018 in hopes that he would be their feature back, but he has spent much of his two years in the league on the sideline due to injury. The Lions rushed for an average of 103 yards per game last year. General manager Bob Quinn drafted running back D’Andre Swift along with offensive guards Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg in hopes that it will improve their running game. Based on last year’s results things bode well for the revamped Falcons defensive line. With Grady Jarrett and now Marlon Davidson up the middle, they should have a problem stopping the Lions rushing attack.
Patricia’s calling card with the Patriots was defensive even being termed a “defensive guru” but his previous success has yet to carry over to his current employer. The Lions ranked 31st in the league in yards given up and more specifically 32nd against the pass. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley on offense the Falcons won’t have any trouble against the Lions defense. Also, they traded pro bowl corner Darius Slay, and cut ties with their best run-stuffer Damon “Snacks” Harrison. With Todd Gurley in the backfield, the Falcons shouldn’t have any issues running the ball. The Lions ranked 21st in the league against the run giving up 115 yards per game.
On paper the Falcons have a slight advantage, however, with Stafford center, the Lions seem to be in most games that they play. The Falcons should win the game, but they will be in a fight for the majority of the game.