Last Sunday night, the Falcons obliterated a hopeful Packers team, temporarily silencing the talk of a Super Bowl hangover. After all, they are just the fourth Super Bowl loser in this last seventeen seasons to start the year 2-0. The following night, Detroit manhandled the Giants on the road leaving the impression that this year they could be for real. Both teams come in on high notes, but Detroit stand the team with the most to gain. This will be their first true test for their defense all season, and it does not get much harder than Matt Ryan and his multitude of explosive weapons.
Both teams will be heading into this game at less than full strength. The Falcons most notably lost their All-Pro pass rusher Vic Beasley Jr. for at least a month, but they also lost starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder to a concussion. It is unclear if Schraeder will be able to go Sunday, and his absence could be a huge problem against a Detroit defensive line that is coming off of a five sack performance against the Giants. The Lions also have some injury concerns of their own, however, with both Jarrad Davis and Tavon Wilson questionable for this one. Detroit’s defense has been impressive thus far, but they cannot afford any injuries if they want to slow down this Atlanta offense.
The Falcons and Lions are two of the just the three teams that are still undefeated in the NFC, and based of their performances so far, they are probably the two most complete teams at this point in the season. The Lions will rely on Mathew Stafford to lead the offense, but their improved running game will have to play huge if they want to keep this one close. The blueprint to defeating the Falcons is creating pressure and controlling the game on the ground. So far, the Lions have excelled in these areas, but the Falcons are a whole different animal than what they have dealt with in the first two weeks.
Chase Irle: This is definitely the most complete team the Falcons have played to date. The Lions keep inching closer to legit Super Bowl contenders and they have a giant test this weekend on their home turf. So far Detroit has been able to get after the passer as well as any team in the league and surprisingly developed a little run game for Mathew Stafford to lean on. Although, it is kind of tough to gauge exactly where Detroit is given their level of competition. They have a chance in this one if they can get after Ryan early and often. The Falcons could be without starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder and starting right guard Wes Schweitzer is a first year starter who has been inconsistent through two games. ‘
I think Detroit’s run gam is a bit of fool’s gold and will not be sustained over the course of the season. Atlanta is able to stop Detroit’s run game and force Matt Stafford into a shootout with Matt Ryan. Stafford is not afraid to throw an interception, and I see him making a few mistakes in this one against an opportunistic Falcons defense. Ryan has a huge game, as the Falcons improve to 3-0 with a tough win over the Lions
Prediction: Falcons 34, Lions 26
Michael Arkin: Many did not expect the Lions to start the season 2-0, but they have taken care of business so far. Atlanta on the other hand has high expectations, and the media is in tears that the team is not experiencing a Super Bowl hangover. The two undefeated teams will faceoff for the first time since the two teams met in London in 2014, where Matt Prater hit a game-winning field goal.
This game should be a fun one to watch for all NFL fans, but also a statement game for the winning team. While Detroit has looked impressive so far, they have yet to see an overall team of Atlanta’s stature. Ziggy Ansah is an absolute beast on the edge, so I expect Steve Sarkisian and the offense to feature plays to try to take him out of many plays. A’Shawn Robinson is another cog on the defensive line that has played very well for the Lions, and he is excellent at stopping the run.
Linebacker Jarrad Davis and safety Tavon Wilson will be out, and both are big losses for the Lions defense. Ryan Schraeder and Vic Beasley are huge losses Atlanta, and Quinn will do his best to figure out how to replace their production.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman should have a big game, and in turn, will open up the passing game for Matt Ryan. The Falcons will end up taking care of business in Detroit, and should continue their early success.
Final Score: Falcons 30, Lions 20
Harrison Coburn: Shootout. While both these teams have drastically bolstered their defensive units, there are two high-powered offensive teams. Matt Stafford will air the ball out with the Falcons’ top pass rusher not on the field. However, the Falcons are riding momentum off a victory against one of the elite teams in the league. I have a feeling this game will be a lot like the Packers-Falcons regular season contest last season, a Western Shootout. At the end of the day though, the Falcons are the better team and while it isn’t close, Matt Ryan is the better quarterback. Falcons win in one of the most entertaining games of the season.
Final score: Falcons 38, Lions 34