Lions-Falcons Prediction

Posted: 10/25/2014 by levcohen in Football

This is a weird post. Then again, It’s not any weirder than a 9:30 AM EST football game. That’s what we’re getting tomorrow with Detroit-Atlanta in London, and because I don’t want to have to wake up early to do my whole post just because of that early game, I’m going to do it now. I get why the NFL put this game at 9:30, and I think it’ll be pretty fun. Just as the English Premier League has succeeded in the weekend AM hours in the US, so should this game. People like watching TV when they wake up and as they eat breakfast, especially on the weekend. And the NFL basically is giving people a quadruple-header; they can watch from 9:30 basically straight through to midnight. It’s heaven for fantasy football owners and hell for people who actually want to get stuff done. Anyway, on to the game itself.

You probably know by now how I feel about the Falcons. When people were raving about them in the preseason and after their rampage on Thursday Night Football over the Buccaneers, I wasn’t convinced, picking them to finish with a losing record before the season. That’s looking good right now, as the Falcons are 2-5 thanks mostly to their hurt offensive line and Swiss cheese defense. Then again, the Falcons are still in the playoff hunt, thanks mostly to their lackluster division. The Panthers lead at just 3-3-1, so the Falcons are just a game and a half out. In any other division, a 2-5 team would be at least three games out. Any way you slice it, though, this is a must-win game for Atlanta, which is pretty depressing given the offensive skill-position talent they have. It’s pretty hard to be a terrible football team when you have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones on your team, but having absolutely nothing else would do it.

On the other side, there’s the Detroit Lions. I was wrong about this team in the preseason, as I thought that new coach Jim Caldwell would be ineffective and an average defense wouldn’t be able to carry a team with a defense that was also pretty much average. In fact, I picked them to finish last in the NFC North. Instead, they’re 5-2 and doing very un-Lion like things. In the past, they blew games late and could never make the pivotal stop. This year, they have the best defense in football and pulled off an improbably comeback against Drew Brees and the Saints last week, culminating in a stop on the Saints’ last drive. They can’t take this game off though, as the Packers have matched them win for win and are currently tied at the top of the NFC North standings. Given that there are two one-loss NFC East teams and that there’s still a likelihood that a wild card team will come out of the West, there might not be a spot for the second place team in this division. These are the games the Lions have lost in the past, and, while they’d still be in the playoff mix at 5-3, this is a game they should win. They’re going to have to lean on their defense again, as Calvin Johnson will be limited at best and Reggie Bush is unlikely to play. Matthew Stafford has shown time and time again that he goes as Calvin goes, so this could be a poor game for him, even against Atlanta’s porous defense.

Detroit Lions (5-2, 4-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons (2-5, 2-5) in London:
Spread: Lions favored by 3.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: I was tempted to pick Atlanta here if only because I trust Matt Ryan more than I trust Matthew Stafford and the Lions are due for a letdown, but that Falcons’ o-line is really bad and the Lions can really get after the passer, so Ryan could get banged up here. I like the Lions 24-17.
Lions cover
Under

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