NFL Matchups: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones And Atlanta Falcons Offense vs. Ndomukong Suh, Nick Fairley, And Detroit Lions Defense

There are playoff implications and NFL records on the line, as The Detroit Lions host the Atlanta Falcons in Ford Field. The Atlanta Falcons potent 7th ranked total offense needs one more win to lock up the first round bye and home field advantage in the NFC. The Detroit Lions are looking to end their 6 game losing streak, and get their talented, yet lowly, 21st ranked defense back on track against one of the leagues best offenses.

Matt Ryan and Weapons vs. Lions Secondary

Matt Ryan and the Falcons 5th ranked passing offense has consistently been one of the best in the league. Needing a win against the Lions underrated 11th ranked passing defense, Ryan will look exploit Lions cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Chris Houston, who are mismatched against Julio Jones and Roddy White. Jones and White are having great seasons as this teams receiver tandem, both have 1,000+ yards this year. The more diminutive Houston, a former Falcon, will be paired against White, while Florence will try to contain Jones. Tony Gonzalez has mismatches against both the Lions linebackers and safeties, and should have a good day. Gonzalez is approaching 100 receptions and 1,000 yards. The future hall of famer is having an age defying season, looking at his 5th 1,000-yard season and 2nd 100 catch season, only 13 receptions and 120 yards shy of those plateaus.

Offensive vs. Defensive Lines

Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have been having decent seasons on the inside, but the profiteer has been Cliff Avril, who leads the team with 9.5 sacks. Left tackle Sam Baker will be without help for most of the game, as the Falcons focus protection inside to stop Fairley and Suh. The guards Peter Konz and Justin Blalock, and the center Todd McClure will have to work together to disrupt the pressure of one of the leagues best defensive tackle duos. The Falcons have only allowed 25 sacks, good for 7th best in the NFL. While the Lions expectations for the defensive line have not been entirely fulfilled, the defense ranks tied for 20th with only 28 sacks.

Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers vs. Lions Rush D

The Falcons offensive line has been exceptional in pass protection, but has struggled to open holes for their running backs. The Falcons have switched tendencies to more of a pass heavy team. Rodgers has been the main beneficiary of this change. Rodgers abilities as a receiver out of the backfield and as a change of pace back have been a good compliment to Turner’s bowling ball running style. Unfortunately, the schematic change has resulted in Turner’s least carries and yards since joining the Falcons, and a career low in yards per carry. The Lions sport the 18th ranked rushing defense, but do not expect the Falcons to change what is working. The Falcons will work draws and screen passes and mix in runs.

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