Detroit Lions vs Atlanta Falcons
Wembley Stadium – London, United Kingdom
Sunday, October 26, 2014, 9:30 am Eastern, TV: Fox
Opening Line: Detroit -4
Current Line: Detroit -3 1/2
Opening Total: 46 1/2
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Lions -190 / Falcons +160
Current Money Line: Lions -175 / Falcons +155
Football fans get a bonus early morning game as the NFL has scheduled the 5-2 Detroit Lions and 2-5 Atlanta Falcons at 9:30 am Eastern from London. The game will be shown live nationally in all markets on Fox. The NFL has previously scheduled games from London at 5:00 pm local time but this is the first game in the afternoon in London.
Atlanta leads the series against Detroit 5-2 since 2001. The Falcons have won 3 straight games against the Lions including 31-18 in 2012 in Detroit. That game is slightly memorable only because Lions’ receiver Calvin Johnson set the single season record for receiving yards in that game.
Detroit is 5-2 under coach Jim Caldwell. The Lions are tied with the Green Bay Packers for first place in the NFC North. Detroit has losses at the Carolina Panthers 24-7 and at home to the Buffalo Bills 17-14. The Lions have home wins over the New York Giants 35-14, the Packers 19-7, and last week against the New Orleans Saints 24-23. Detroit also has road wins at the New York Jets 24-17 and Minnesota Vikings 17-3. The Lions are 4-3 ATS and the total is 2-5 this season. Detroit was a 1.5 point favorite against the Saints and the total was 46.5. The Lions have won 2 straight games.
Atlanta is coached by Mike Smith. The Falcons started off the season 2-1 but have since lost 4 straight games all by double digits. Still, the Falcons are only a game behind the 3-3-1 Panthers in the NFC South Division. The Falcons have home wins over the Saints 37-34 in overtime and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14. Atlanta has road losses at the Cincinnati Bengals 24-10, Vikings 41-28, Giants 30-20 and last week at the Baltimore Ravens 29-7, plus a home loss to the Chicago Bears 27-13. The Falcons are 3-4 ATS and the total is 3-4 this season. Atlanta was a 7 point underdog at the Ravens and the total was 49.5.
For years, the Detroit Lions were known for having an explosive offense and a so-so defense at best. This year the script has been flipped as the Lions are struggling to move the ball and have a dominant defense. Detroit is outscoring teams 20-15 this season. The Lions are #25 in scoring and #2 in points allowed. Detroit is averaging 332 yards per game including 250 passing and 82 rushing yards per game. The Lions are #24 in total offense, #13 in passing and #31 in rushing. On defense, Detroit leads the league in total offense allowing 290 yards per game including 217 passing and 73 rushing yards. The Lions are #6 in pass defense and #3 in rush defense. Detroit is 44/106 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 31-99. Detroit has allowed 24 sacks and forced 21 this season. The Lions are +1 in turnovers. Detroit has 2 defensive touchdowns this season.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 63.1% of his passes for 1,891 yards with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 2 rushing touchdowns. His top two playmakers, running back Reggie Bush and receiver Calvin Johnson have both battled injuries in the last few weeks. Both are questionable with ankle injuries. Running back Joique Bell has 84 carries for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 13 catches for 115 yards. Bush has 49 carries for 171 yards and a touchdown, plus 25 catches for 164 yards. Receiver Golden Tate has 48 catches for 649 yards and 2 touchdowns. Johnson has 22 catches for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns, despite missing the last two games. Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria, and Eric Ebron are all doubtful or out against the Falcons. Six defensive players are listed as questionable or out.
Atlanta is being outscored 28-24 this season. Atlanta is #30 in points allowed. The Falcons are averaging 388 yards per game on offense including 290 passing yards and 98 rushing yards. Atlanta is #6 in total offense and #5 in pass defense. The Falcons are allowing 412 total yards per game on defense including 274 passing yards and 138 rushing yards. Atlanta is 27th or worse in all defensive categories. The Falcons are 40/99 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 46/97 on third down conversions. Atlanta has 7 sacks and has allowed 15. The Falcons are -1 in turnovers. Atlanta has 2 defensive special teams touchdowns and has allowed a defensive touchdown.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 64% of his passes for 2,078 yards with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, plus 11 carries for 53 yards. He has been sacked 15 times. Running back Steven Jackson has 75 carries for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns. Antone Smith has 16 carries for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jacquizz Rodgers has 22 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones has 49 catches for 676 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roddy White has 28 catches for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns. Devin Hester has 18 catches for 263 yards with a touchown, plus a punt return for a touchdown. Harry Douglas has 12 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with a foot injury. Six offensive linemen are questionable or out as are five defensive players.
Detroit is 3-7 ATS on grass, 2-5 after a straight up win and 1-4 in October. The under is 5-1 in this series recently.
Atlanta is 16-5 ATS after scoring less than 15 points, 10-4 in week 8, 5-11 after failing to cover, and after rushing for less than 90 yards, 2-5-1 on grass, 1-4 after a straight up loss of more than 14 points, 1-5 after allowing 350 total yards or more. 0-4 overall and in October. The Falcons have covered 4 of the last 5 games against the Lions.
Atlanta’s awful defense might be the cure for Detroit’s offensive woes even if Bush and Johnson don’t play. The Lions are clearly the better team and should win this game easily.