A Deep Dive Preview Of The Lions Week Three Matchup Against The Falcons.
Falcons Start Season Defeating Lions’ Division Rivals
The Falcons have started their season off well so far in 2017. They are 2-0 after defeating the Bears in week one and the Packers week two. Their prolific offense from a year ago seems to be back, for the most part, this season.
What allows the Falcons offense to work so well is their ability to run the ball and attack deep with play action. With star players like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonte Freeman, and Tevin Coleman that offensive strategy had worked in their favor through much of 2016.
However, when you watch their week one matchup against the Bears, you see how much slowing down their run game can impact their offensive prowess. The Bears defense held the Falcons offense to an average on 2.8 yards per carry and only allowed sixty four yards on the ground, to an offense that generated nearly 2,000 rushing yards last season.
This helped the Bears slow the Falcons offense enough to give their own offense a chance to make the game competitive. Fortunately for Lions fans, this game ends with a 23-17 Falcons win, after the Bears failed to score from the Falcons 6-yard line.
Matchups To Watch For
Falcons Running Game vs Lions Run Defense
One of the reasons the Bears were able to stay so close with the Falcons was because of their ability to stop the run. The Lions will likely need to replicate that success to slow down the Falcons offense. Slowing down the Falcons run also helps slow down their passing game. With Julio Jones’ speed and ball skills, the play-action off the run can be lethal in Atlanta.
Fortunately, the Lions defense has looked much improved from last season and could give the Falcons a fight on defense. Outside of the penalties the past two weeks, the Lions defense has been quite stable and consistent. If their front seven can maintain their consistency against the run and rushing the passer, they have a good shot at slowing down this Atlanta offense.
Tackle Rick Wagner vs Linebacker Takkarist McKinley
With news coming out that Falcons line-backer Vic Beasley is going to miss Sunday’s game, the battle between Lions right tackle Rick Wagner and rookie Takkarist McKinley will be one to watch.
While Wagner will not be facing the 2016 league leader in sacks, he will be facing a rookie who was known for his pass rush ability at UCLA. Although, Wagner has been known to be one of the better pass blocking right tackles in the league. With Wagner being a veteran who relies on his strength and technique, he has not traditionally matched up well to someone like McKinley whose primary asset is speed coming off the edge.
The Lions will need Stafford to stay upright if the defense is not able to hold off Matt Ryan and company if this game becomes a shootout. Wagner’s success against McKinley will likely weigh heavily on the outcome of the game if it does.