The Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons are the primetime matchup this week in the NFL’s early version of Monday Night Football. The two teams meet up on Saturday night in a primetime matchup on ESPN. The Lions (4-10) will be looking to end their season on a positive note with two wins. The Lions can also pay spoiler in the Falcons (12-2) attempt to clinch home field in the NFL Playoffs.
The Lions have lost six straight games and last week’s was perhaps the low point of the season. Detroit lost to the Arizona Cardinals (10-38) in a game that saw four big turnovers for the Lions. The team also failed to score more than 10 points for only the second time this season.
Matthew Stafford had a horrible performance against the Cardinals. The Lions starting quarterback threw three interceptions and completed less than 50% of his passes. Earlier this week, I called for the team to start backup quarterback Shaun Hill.
The Lions have had a great offensive unit this season that is close to leading the league. The team’s passing ranks first in the league with 302.1 yards per game, while the rushing ranks 23rd with 104.4 yards per game. On defense the Lions rank 11th in passing yards given up (218.1) and 18th in rushing yards given up (119.4). The Lions defense will need to contain Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who has helped the Falcons average 287.5 passing yards per week. Injuries to Nick Fairley and Corey Williams continue to be an issue for the Lions pass rush. With Jacob Lacey out at cornerback for the Lions, Ryan could find targets Roddy White and Julio Jones more frequently. The Lions will need to step up defensively to have a shot in this game.
The Falcons passing defense ranks 17th in the league giving up 229.5 yards per game. If Stafford can regain his form, the Lions could have a big day from Calvin and Stafford’s new favorite target and old roommate Kris Durham.
Lions fans will likely be tuning in for the anticipation for Calvin Johnson record breaking season. Johnson needs 182 yards in the Lions last two games to surpass the 1848 mark set by Jerry Rice in 1995. If Calvin has 100 or more receiving yards on Saturday, he would set the new NFL record for consecutive games with 100+ yards at eight weeks. Johnson is currently tied with Charley Hennigan and Michael Irvin.