The Atlanta Falcons (-5.5) had an opportunity to keep their playoff hopes alive in week 15 and ... they blew it. While they still have a 2% chance of going to the postseason, most people concede it would take a minor miracle to get there. The Detroit Lions (+5.5) just shocked the world by beating the Arizona Cardinals handily for their 2nd win of the year. Could this be a more difficult game than Falcons fans were originally anticipating?
The Lions offense is ... bad. They’re currently ranked 28th in scoring ahead of only the Bears, Giants, Texans and Jaguars. Jared Goff has regressed to the QB he was at the beginning of his career and he may miss the game being on the COVID list. Tim Boyle is not an upgrade at the position. If the Lions are going to succeed, it will be on the back of their running backs. D’Andrew Swift might make it back for this game, but if he doesn’t, Craig Reynolds has really lit things up the past few weeks. Jamaal Williams is also a quality runner who can make things happen and he’s expected to come off the COVID list ahead of this game.
The Falcons offense hasn’t been much better. They’re 26th with only the Jets sitting between them and the Lions. Atlanta has been a feast or famine team this year and it comes down to the offensive line. It’s no surprise that Matt Ryan has struggled when under constant duress. When he’s had a pocket, he’s been good to great. The rest of the time he’s been mediocre to bad. While the team misses Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage has stepped up as of late and Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts are always capable of making big plays.
Can the Lions defense cause issues for Ryan? Probably not. They’re 29th in sacks with just 22 on the year and 8 of those have come from Charles Harris. They’ve allowed a passer rating of 98.2 on the year, which is 25th in the league. They’re also allowing 4.3 yards per carry and 133 rushing yards per game, which puts them in the middle of the pack. A quick look at the back end of their defense shows a secondary that could be a prime opportunity for Kyle Pitts to have a big game again.
The Falcons defense is pretty miserable all around. They’re dead last in sacks and 30th in passer rating allowed. They’re also averaging 4.3 yards per carry but are only allowing 120 yards per game, which is something I guess. A full rebuild of this defense - apart from Grady Jarrett and A.J. Terrell - is probably the best path forward for this unit.
This is two mediocre teams who are ranked near the bottom in offense and defense. While the Lions are coming off a big win, the Falcons are coming home off a frustrating loss. Atlanta undoubtedly wants to secure their first win in Mercedes Benz stadium in 2021 and this is probably their best opportunity to do it.
The Falcons are favorites at home as the DraftKings Sportbook has them winning by a couple of field goals.
Score prediction: Falcons 24, Lions 23
Bold prediction: Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts connect for 2 touchdown tosses.
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Falcons vs. Lions Week 16
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Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.