The Falcons head back out on the road for a week three matchup in Detroit at 1pm EST. It should be a nice matchup for them considering that the Lions dramatically overachieved in 2016. The Lions should challenge the Bears for last place in the NFC North.
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Lions’ 2016 Rankings
2016 Record: 9-7 [2nd in NFC North; Lost in NFC Wild Card Round]
Point Differential: -12 [21st]
Turnover Differential: -1 [20th]
Yards per game: 338.8 [21st]
Points per game: 21.6 
Passing yards per game: 256.9 [11th]
Rushing yards per game: 81.9 [30th]
Yards allowed per game: 354.8 [18th]
Points allowed per game: 22.4 [13th]
Passing yards per game: 248.4 [19th]
Rushing yards per game: 106.3 [18th]
Lions’ Important Additions
DT Cornelius Washington [UFA – CHI]
DT Akeem Spence [UFA – TB]
G T.J. Lang [UFA – GB]
LB Jarrad Davis [Drafted UF – 1st Round]
CB Teez Tabor [Drafted UF – 2nd Round]
CB D.J. Hayden [UFA – OAK]
T Ricky Wagner [UFA – BAL]
QB Brad Kaaya [Drafted UM – 6th Round]
Lions’ Important Departures
T Riley Reiff [UFA – MIN]
G Larry Warford [UFA – NO]
WR Anquan Boldin [UFA – Unsigned]
DE Devin Taylor [UFA – NYG]
Lions’ Biggest Threat
The Lions running back situation is average, at best, but they do have a couple of solid receivers in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. Still, like most NFL teams, without quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Lions would be picking in the top five the past couple of seasons.
Detroit offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter spreads the field for Stafford, taking advantage of arm and creativeness at the position. He finished sixth in passing yards in the NFL, and you could make the case that he’s a fringe top 5 quarterback in the league.
Falcons’ Offense Versus Lions’ Defense
We should expect a decline in offensive production following the departure of Kyle Shanahan, but Atlanta still sports an excellent offense.
Detroit was better overall defensively than Green Bay, but that’s because the Packers were terrible pass. The Lions were mediocre across the board, and Matt Ryan can pick them apart in a lot of ways.
Detroit did draft some talented players in Tabor and Davis, but they’ll still be cutting their teeth when this matchup happens.
Falcons’ Defense Versus Lions’ Offense
Due to the lack of a running game, I’d imagine the Lions’ offense would look similar to the Packers’. The Lions will run a lot of 3 receiver sets with a heavy mix of running back screens.
With an improved offensive line thanks to the signings of Lang and Wagner, Stafford should have more time to make plays. This is the type of offense that can take advantage of the Falcons’ weaknesses. I imagine the Lions being able to beat the Falcons on some halfback screens or throws in the slot, but Tate and Jones should be taken out of the equation.
Detroit’s luck is going to run out in 2017. They outperformed their Pythagorean expectation by over a game (7.7). While they have good players, their roster will be outclassed more often than not.
The Falcons will be in another shootout, but the Lions defense can’t keep it as close as the Packers. Stafford throws for some garbage time touchdowns to make it closer than appears.
Falcons 38 – Lions 31
Versus Buffalo Bills (Week Four)