Falcons Vow Focused Effort in Detroit
The Falcons may have the best record in the National Football League, but that doesn't mean they can afford to take any opponent lightly. After being embarrassed by the lowly Panthers two weeks ago, Atlanta is set to take on the 4-10 Lions on Saturday night. Despite the stark contrast in talent between the two teams that will square off at Ford Field, the Falcons are well aware that a complete effort will likely be necessary to come away with a win.
“I think we learned our lesson from the Carolina game,” Falcons running back Michael Turner said. “We are not taking anything for granted. We’ve still got work to do. We’ve still got things to get better at. They are going to give us their best shot. We know that.”
Gonzalez Closing in on 1,000 Yards
The Falcons already have two receivers with 1,000+ yards in Julio Jones and Roddy White, but Tony Gonzalez isn't that far behind them. The future Hall-of-Famer sits at 880 yards, which means he needs just 120 more in the next two games. This is an extremely doable task for Gonzalez, as he's averaging 62 yards per game so far this season.
“It’d be great," Gonzalez said on Wednesday. "I think I’d probably want it more for that reason (to join White and Jones). … Don’t get me wrong, I’d take it, but I’d rather do it for the team goal and do something that hasn’t been done often.”
Falcons Must Keep Suh Away from Ryan
The absolute most important thing the Falcons have to do on Saturday is protect their franchise quarterback, and that task begins and ends with containing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. You'll remember that last year, Suh was guilty of taunting Matt Ryan when he suffered an ankle injury; however, there doesn't seem to be any bad blood between the two parties.
“That’s a long time ago,” Ryan said in a teleconference with Detroit reporters today. “We’re a different football team right now. They’re a different football team, so it’s not something I think about.”
Updated Injury Report
The first official injury report of the week is out, and Roddy White (knee), William Moore (hamstring) and Cliff Matthews (hamstring) were the only players that sat out practice on Wednesday. If White and Moore aren't feeling 100 percent, don't expect them to see much action, if any at all. The Falcons should do just fine against the Lions without those two, and risking re-injury isn't worth it with the playoffs so close ahead. A win on Saturday is not nearly as important as maintaining a healthy roster, and I trust that Atlanta's training and coaching staffs understand that.
If Roddy is a no-go (or sees limited time), Harry Douglas will step up and fill the void. After a strong game last week in which he had 83 receiving yards—a team high for the day—Douglas is surely eager to get more balls thrown his way.
While it's difficult to trust Chris Hope at this stage of his career, he did an admirable job last week (despite one questionable penalty).
Falcons 4-Point Favorite
As of Wednesday, the Falcons are 4-point favorites over the Lions in most sports books, giving them one of their biggest spreads of the season. While I'm not a gambler myself, this is a bet that may be worth making. The Lions have lost six in a row and are 1-5 in that stretch against the spread.