The Detroit Lions are facing the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in the first game since the San Francisco 49’ers snapped their improbable nine game winning streak.
Atlanta v Detroit
Venue/Stadium: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Time/Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, October 23, 2011
NFL Odds From: Bet Online
Spread (ATS): Detroit -3.5
There weren’t too many football pundits who would have predicted that the Lions (5-1, 2-1) would be going into Week 7 with just one loss, but this is a team that’s definitely on its way up. Their success is due, in no small part, to the offensive efforts of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford, who only saw three starts in 2010 is best known for leading the Lions to their winless 2009 season, an NFL first. But that’s not the same Stafford that’s been taking the field on Sundays this year.
Now in his third year in the NFL, the young man out of the University of Georgia has really found his groove, completing 147 of 237 for 1729 yards and 15 touchdowns. And even though he’s only got a 62 percent completion rate, he’s only been picked off four times this year.
In the absence of star running back Jahvid Best, who suffered a concussion in week’s game, look for the Lions to do a lot more passing than normal. If this scenario plays out, that could mean a very busy afternoon for Stafford’s favorite target Calvin Johnson. Johnson has had 36 catches for 564 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensively, the Lions have been doing very well this year. As a whole, they’re only giving up an average of 19 points a game. They’ve been very effective at shutting down the run than the pass, which could cause some problems for the Falcons (3-3,1-2).
Between the effective rush defense and a Detroit crowd that’s been a major distraction for visiting teams, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan may not be able to throw the ball as much as he normally does. That means the Falcons will have to rely heavily on veteran running back Michael Turner. He’s carried the ball 111 times this year for six touchdowns.
For Detroit, this week has been full of off field distractions caused by head coach Jim Schwartz’s near brawl with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh after losing his first game of the season. Harbaugh has apologized for the exuberant post game back slap that set Schwartz into a frenzy and tongues wagging throughout the football world.
Two of Atlanta’s three losses this year have come on the road and Detroit is, obviously, not a conducive spot for road dogs. With their road difficulties and the Lion’s desire to bounce back from last week’s loss, this game is Detroit’s to lose. It seems very unlikely that the Lions will drop back to back games at home.
Bettors who took the under have cashed in on the Lion’s last two games and 48 may be little high for this one as well.
The Lions are 4-1 ATS and the Falcons are 4-1 ATS.
Matt’s Prediction: Detroit 28-21