The Atlanta Falcons get set to take on the Detroit Lions in a rare Saturday night kickoff this weekend in Motown. The Falcons come in sitting atop the NFC at 12-2, while the Lions are licking their chops at 4-10 after an embarrassing loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Atlanta probably saw this as a potential playoff matchup when the season began. However, Detroit has been so inconsistent this year that the only thing their fans have come to expect is the unexpected. Detroit has one of the best kept secrets in the league in Matthew Stafford and one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Calvin Johnson. The Lions defense is good enough to keep them in any game but none of those factors have translated into a winning record. Some blame it on Detroit’s lack of a running game but these guys just have far too many moments where they just do not focus. All of that has landed the Lions looking to play spoiler and prevent Atlanta from clinching home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are coming off of their best win of the season against the New York Giants and seem to be peaking at the right time of the year. Matt Ryan was razor sharp, Julio Jones reminded fans why Atlanta traded up for him and Michael Turner even got in on the action. Atlanta’s defense held Eli Manning and one of the league’s best wide receiver tandems in check all game long. They will look to continue that momentum against a Detroit offense that has the best passing attack in the league. Detroit is capable of slinging the ball down the field and racking up points. If Atlanta remains hot though, none of that will matter but it will depend solely on Atlanta’s secondary. Detroit has virtually nothing to play for except pride, whatever that cliché means and even if they manage to win, Atlanta is still going to the playoffs.
Of course any team can be beaten on any given Sunday and the blemishes on Atlanta’s record came from games lost on the road. Detroit also has a tendency to play well against good teams like the Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers. However, Atlanta should feel right at home since they will be playing in a dome, not to mention Roddy White should be completely healthy. If Atlanta plays the way they are capable of they should cruise to their 13th win on the year and lock up home-field advantage. The only thing the Falcons should really be concerned about is if Ndamukong Suh can keep his feet to himself.