NFL Picks Week 7: Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
Sunday, 10/23/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  Detroit -4.5
Current Betting Line:  Detroit -3
Opening Total:  48.5
Current Total:  47.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Falcons Panthers NFL Game Preview
Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner is likely to have a big game Sunday against the Detroit Lions

Atlanta has alternated wins and losses in its first six games this season, coming off a 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers as 3.5-point home favorites.  The Falcons have actually out-gained all three of their road opponents, while losing the statistical battle when playing inside the Georgia Dome.  The last time these two franchises faced each other, Atlanta came away with a 34-21 win over the Detroit Lions as 3.5-point home underdogs.  Over the last two-plus seasons, Atlanta is 11-8 ATS on the road and the ‘over’ is 12-7 in those contests.

The Falcons will likely lean heavily on running back Michael Turner, who carried the ball for 139 yards on 27 carries last week.  Atlanta got back to emphasizing the running attack, rushing the ball 35 times after averaging just 17.7 carries over the previous three contests.  It could definitely slow down the Detroit Lions’ defensive front, a unit that is allowing opponents to run for 129.5 yards per game, which is 26th in the NFL.  Quarterback Matt Ryan has benefited from a more balanced approach, getting sacked just two times in the past three games.

Detroit was unable to stop San Francisco’s ground game in allowing 203 rushing yards and ultimately dropped its first game of the season.  The Lions are still 4-1-1 ATS on the year, while the ‘over’ is 4-2, but the team has fallen short of the total the last two weeks.  Most of the focus following the game was directed on head coach Jim Schwartz’s post-game handshake with 49ers front man Jim Harbaugh, as the two nearly fought on the turf at Ford Field.  “It’s unfortunate,” commented Schwartz this week.  “The game’s played by the players on the field.”  Detroit is 5-3 ATS as a favorite the last two-plus campaigns.

The Lions will likely be without starting running back Jahvid Best, suffering his second concussion in three months.  Detroit tried to make a bold trade sending Jerome Harrison to Philadelphia this week for Ronnie Brown, but it was ultimately voided on Wednesday.  The team ranks 25th in the league in gaining just 90.8 yards on the ground.  Quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson will have to carry the load.  None of it may matter with if Turner has another big game against the team’s defense, gaining 428 combined rushing yards in the last two games in this series.

Bettors will likely back the Falcons due to their 6-1 ATS mark on the road versus winning home teams, while the Lions are 2-2 ATS as a home favorite of a field goal or less.

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