Detroit Looks To Improve To 3-0 And Repeat 2011 Success.
Coming into week three of the 2017 season, nobody expected the Detroit Lions to be 2-0. Not that it is overly impressive for a team to start 2-0, but a majority of the media didn’t expect the Detroit vs. Atlanta game to be a battle of the undefeated teams come week three. Detroit had a fourth-quarter comeback to get their first win of the season, then in prime time at New York, they were able to take down the Giants.
This is Detroit’s first true test of the season. While Arizona and New York aren’t the worst teams in the league, Atlanta just destroyed Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, despite struggling against the laughable Chicago Bears. Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, are just three of the many players that Detroit will have to go up against on Sunday.
Ameer Abdullah And Travis Swanson Need To Work Well So Stafford Can Sling It
The running game against Arizona in week one was flat and dull. Week two had a bit of a spark as Abdullah was able to bust out for two big runs, but throw those away and it’s a repeat of week one. Detroit won’t be going up against Courtney Upshaw and Vic Beasley, a huge advantage for the Lions offensive line as they should be able to create more lanes for the running backs.
Travis Swanson is the main offensive lineman to watch. While Greg Robinson is another important lineman to watch, the only reason why Swanson is ahead is due to the injury he suffered last week against the Giants. Swanson stayed in the game and finished it out, but he is questionable on Sunday. I expect him to play, but him possibly getting hurt even worse and being forced to be taken out could be bad for Detroit as they already are down starting left tackle Taylor Decker.
Darius Slay vs Julio Jones Is Must See Football
Darius “Big Play” Slay was just that in 2016, forcing turnovers to give his team a chance to win, or getting turnovers to seal the deal. So far, his 2017 campaign is impressive. While he hasn’t forced any turnovers, Slay has had three pass deflections and hasn’t allowed a big game from any wide receivers. Against the Cardinals Slay had an 83.2 grade from PFF, against New York it got lowered to a 79.8 but Slay did his job in breaking up passes as two would be touchdowns were eliminated by Slay.
His biggest test in front of him is up next as he takes on 6’3 star wide receiver Julio Jones, who has had a quiet year so far with nine catches for 174 yards. Slay matched up against ODell Beckham Jr last week, but Jones isn’t banged up like Beckham. Slay will be in for a tough game on Sunday, but Slay should be able to hang with Jones in the end.
Tahir Whitehead And Ziggy Ansah Are In ‘Prove It’ Games
The biggest blow to the Lions when it comes to injuries for its week three matchup is losing rookie linebacker, Jarrad Davis. Davis has done well in his first two games as a pro, getting 12 tackles, three assisted tackles and a sack. Davis being out means Tahir Whitehead will need to prove himself as he was a blemish on the defense last season, doing poor in coverage and missing assignments. This game against Atlanta will be tough as he has to try and stop two good running backs.
Ziggy Ansah looked like his 2015 self on Monday night and it got Lions fans excited. While Ansah did get three sacks, he went up against a bad offensive tackle in Ereck Flowers. This week he has the matchup against Jake Matthews. Matthews is levels above Ereck Flowers and will be a true test to see if Ansah can get back to what he once was. With right tackle Ryan Schraeder out, that side could be where Detroit strikes the most. If Ansah has troubles against Matthews, we could see Ansah flip sides and attack the weak point of the line.
The 16-0 train stops here. While Detroit does have this game at home, fans are going to go home upset as their team will lose its first game of the year. While Detroit will have an easier time to protect Matt Stafford and in the running game, Atlanta still has many weapons on offense and defense from their impressive 2016 run.
This game will be close, but Atlanta will prove to be too much for the Lions. With it being a close game though, it shows the rest of the league that the Lions are for real, and they could go further in the playoffs this season.
Atlanta wins 28-24.