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Falcons vs Lions preview: Offensive and defensive stats comparison for Week 7

The Falcons (1-5) finally got their first win of the season in Week 6 against the Vikings. Atlanta faces a stiffer test this week against Detroit (2-4). We take a closer look at how the Falcons and Lions match up on offense and defense.

NFL: SEP 24 Falcons at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After an emotional Week 6 that saw the Falcons move on from longtime head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the team found a way to finally get in the win column with a dominant victory over the Vikings. Atlanta looked reinvigorated on offense and made enough plays on defense to put Minnesota away early in the game, and for once the team didn’t let their opponent mount a comeback.

This week, the Falcons face a more difficult test in the Lions (2-4). Detroit has had a disappointing start to the season, but they are also coming off a strong victory against an overmatched opponent. Can Atlanta build some momentum under their interim coaching staff and get another win in Week 7? Let’s take a closer look at how the Falcons and Lions match up statistically on offense and defense.

OFFENSE - WEEK 10

Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Points/game 21.9 (21st) 30.1 (3rd)
Total yards/game 338.0 (20th) 434.3 (1st)
Yards per play 5.3 (T-22nd) 6.4 (1st)
Passing yards/game 257.6 (12th) 291.5 (4th)
Passing yards per attempt 7.1 (T-18th) 8.2 (T-5th)
Sack Percentage 4.4% (8th) 4.5% (9th)
Rushing yards/game 80.4 (29th) 142.8 (3rd)
Rushing yards per attempt 3.4 (31st) 4.9 (T-4th)
Scoring Efficiency 37.9% (19th) 46.0% (4th)
Red Zone Efficiency 63.0% (12th) 58.6% (16th)
Turnover Percentage 11.5% (T-18th) 11.5% (T-18th)
Third Down Efficiency 43.5% (10th) 46.1% (4th)

After a strong showing against the Vikings in Week 6, the Falcons have improved markedly in the offensive statistics. Atlanta is currently 13th in scoring offense, 4th in total yardage, and T-15th in yards per play. The passing game remains the biggest strength, as the Falcons are 2nd in passing yardage and 17th in yards per attempt. Atlanta’s ground game is still below-average: 19th in rushing yardage and T-22nd in yards per carry.

The advanced stats are still looking good for the Falcons after six games. Atlanta is currently 5th in the league in scoring efficiency and 16th in third down efficiency—both have improved from last week. The Falcons have remained among the league’s best in limiting turnovers (7.4% TO rate, T-6th), and have been about league-average in pass protection (5.0% sack rate, 15th).

On the whole, the Lions are a mediocre to below-average offense in most statistics. Detroit is currently 15th in scoring offense, 24th in total yardage, and T-23rd in yards per play. They’ve been below-average in the passing game: 22nd in passing yardage and 18th in yards per attempt. The Lions have fared better on the ground, as the team is currently 15th in rushing yardage and T-13th in yards per carry.

The advanced statistics are a mixed bag for Detroit. On the positive side, the Lions are above-average in scoring efficiency (11th) and have been good at avoiding turnovers (7.5% TO rate, T-8th). However, Detroit has struggled on third down (39.4% conversion rate, 23rd) and have been below-average in pass protection (6.7% sack rate, 20th) thus far.

Offensive Advantage: Falcons

DEFENSE - WEEK 10

Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Points/game 27.5 (28th) 24.0 (T-18th)
Total yards/game 360.5 (17th) 371.5 (21st)
Yards per play 5.6 (T-17th) 6.0 (T-27th)
Passing yards/game 237.4 (13th) 270.5 (25th)
Passing yards per attempt 7.1 (T-10th) 7.8 (T-22nd)
Pressure Rate 18.6% (31st) 25.1% (16th)
Rushing yards/game 123.1 (24th) 101.0 (10th)
Rushing yards per attempt 4.4 (T-19th) 4.3 (T-14th)
Scoring Efficiency 43.9% (25th) 35.9% (13th)
Red Zone Efficiency 66.7% (T-21st) 68.0% (25th)
Turnover Percentage 8.5% (24th) 15.2% (6th)
Third Down Efficiency 47.9% (30th) 34.7% (7th)

The Falcons had a good day on defense against Minnesota, particularly in scoring, but are still among the league’s worst in yardage and passing statistics. Atlanta is currently 28th in scoring defense, 31st in total yardage allowed, and 32nd in yards per play allowed. The Falcons are abysmal in coverage: 31st in passing yardage allowed and T-31st in yards per attempt allowed. Only the Seahawks are worse, and not by much. However, Atlanta has actually been consistently good against the run in 2020: 5th in rushing yardage allowed and T-8th in yards per carry allowed.

The advanced statistics are better for the Falcons than you might expect given their struggles against the pass. Atlanta is currently a below-average T-23rd in scoring efficiency, but a solid T-13th in third down efficiency (with just a 41.4% conversion rate allowed). Through six games, they’ve been about league-average at producing turnovers (11.8% TO rate, T-15th). Despite struggling in the sack department, the Falcons are about average in terms of pressure rate (21.7%, 17th).

Detroit has been a below-average overall defense through the first six games of the season. The Lions are currently 22nd in scoring defense, 21st in total yardage allowed, and T-18th in yards per play allowed. They’ve been mostly solid against the pass: 15th in passing yardage allowed and T-13th in yards per attempt allowed. Against the run, Detroit has been among the league’s worst: 29th in rushing yardage allowed and T-25th in yards per carry allowed (4.9).

The advanced statistics aren’t particularly good for the Lions, either. Detroit is 21st in scoring efficiency and 24th in third down efficiency (48.3% conversion rate allowed). While they’ve been solid at producing turnovers (11.5% TO rate, 17th), the Lions have been among the league’s worst in pressure rate (19.1%, 28th).

Defensive Advantage: Lions

The Lions offer another potential opportunity for Dirk Koetter’s offense to excel, which means that the Falcons have a real chance to come away with a second-straight win in Week 7. Atlanta has the clear advantage on offense and has shown that they can run the ball against poor run defenses, which the Lions possess. Detroit isn’t quite a pushover in the passing game, so this will be a more difficult matchup for Ryan and Co. than Minnesota.

On defense, neither team is particularly inspiring. However, Detroit has been the better unit overall—and drastically so against the pass. The Falcons do have a favorable matchup in the run game, as the Lions have shown a propensity for favoring the rushing attack under Matt Patricia. If Atlanta does one thing well on defense, it’s stop the run—so we’ll have to hope for some stubbornness in Detroit’s playcalling.

However, if this game becomes a high-scoring shootout, it’s difficult to figure out who might be favored. Detroit has been far better at limiting the pass, but Atlanta has had a lot more success on offense. This profiles as a fairly evenly-matched game that could easily go down to the wire, as neither team looks to have a significant advantage in any one area.

Overall Projection: Evenly matched

What are your thoughts on Atlanta’s Week 7 game against the Lions? What matchups would you target on offense and defense if you were in charge of the Falcons?