Atlanta at Detroit
Time: NOON (CT), FOX
Spread: ATL -3
Odds c/o Bovada.lv
The Atlanta Falcons are off to a hot 2-0 start as Week 1 victors over the Chicago Bears and if defeated the Green Bay Packers 34-23 last week in impressive fashion. This week the Falcons will travel to Detroit to face the Lions as 3-point favorites according to NFL Oddsmakers at bookmaker Bovada. The game will air at Noon (Central Time) on FOX, with an over/under of 51 points in a game promising to feature some scoring and excitement.
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Last week, the Falcons made a big statement in its second-straight defeat of the Green Bay Packers. Atlanta led 24-7 at the half, and despite a 13-point final quarter by the Packers, Atlanta still finished double-digit victors against Aaron Rodgers and company. Despite Rodgers passing for 343 yards, the Packers managed just 59 via the rush, with a team average of under four yards per carry. Atlanta, meanwhile, worked the ground, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt with Devonta Freeman leading the way with his 84 yards on 19 carries and two rushing TDs.
Matt Ryan was accurate, throwing 19 of 28 for 252 yards, as the Falcons averaged nine yards per reception. Ryan did incur three sacks for a lossage of 29 yards, but Julio Jones was a hero running routes with 108 yards on his five catches. The Atlanta defense was aggressive, too, though with five tackles for loss and three sacks, along with seven hits on Rodgers while also forcing the Packer to fumble (lost).
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The Falcons’ Freeman has three rushing TDs on the year, but no other Falcon has rushed for the end zone. Ryan is averaging almost 10 yards per reception and 265.5 yards per game, and though he is averaging 2.5 sacks per game for an average loss 21 yards, Atlanta has enough offensive firepower between Ryan, Jones and Freeman to give the Lions headaches in this game. The Lions, though, were strong last week against the New York Giants in allowing only 10 points and 62 total rushing yards. Detroit also forced an interception from Eli Manning and sacked the struggling 36-year-old five times for a total lossage of 31 yards.
The Lions held New York to only 3.4 yards per rush attempt, while rushing for 138 yards itself on 32 carries. The Lions got 122 yards from Matt Stafford on 15 of 21 passing, but he threw two TD passes and his three sacks only cost the Lions three total yards loss. Eric Ebron led the team in receptions (5) and reception yardage (42), with one TD, and he caught all five of his targeted passes. Ameer Abdullah had a good game with 86 yards on 17 rush attempts, good for 5.1 yards-per-carry. The Lions are going to need more than 5.8 yards per pass attempt from Stafford this week if it is to keep pace with what Ryan and the Falcons do.
It is difficult to say that the Lions have the scoring aptitude to keep pace with Atlanta, even if its strong DL can cause some havoc. Abdullah is a bit of a wild card for Detroit offensively, too, as he has rushed for 116 yards but was held in check in Week 1 by the Arizona Cardinals when he averaged just two yards per carry and failed to record a rush longer than seven total yards. He also has not rushed for a TD this season, his third in the NFL.
Abdullah rushed for 597 yards as a rookie in 2015, but injuries derailed him last season, and he still has yet to cash in on the potential Detroit hoped he would when he was taken in the second round of the 2015 draft out of Nebraska.
Perhaps this is the week we see Abdullah record a big game, but even in his finest NFL season he did not rush for more than 63 yards and last week was about as much as the Lions really seem to be expecting. Given that Freeman is more consistent and Ryan can get the ball downfield better than Stafford, all signs point to an easy Falcons victory in this game.