The Lions finally lost a game, falling to 5-1. It didn't take long for the critics and the haters to take center stage. They cried "Same old Lions" and declared Detroit's start a fluke. My guy Peter Schrager is one of those haters. The Lions are listening. They can't wait to punch history squarely in the mouth and shut guys like Schrager up.
Detroit gets Atlanta in Motown Sunday on NFL on FOX at 1 p.m. ET. It should be an excellent game. The Falcons, for the first time this year, enter a ball game after an impressive contest, bludgeoning the Panthers last weekend. It marked the best and most complete game the Falcons have played all year. A huge key was having the offense finally go through Michael Turner, who barreled his way to 139 yards and 2 touchdowns on an impressive 5.1 yards per carry.
It's one thing facing the not-ready-for-primetime Panthers. Wait until Turner tries to run against the vaunted Lions defensive line. The big issue is the play, the inconsistency, of Atlanta's offensive line. They have been manhandled often this year, even in wins. Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and company are going to embarrass the overmatched Sam Baker and his line mates. I am a huge fan of Matt Ryan and his ability to make plays in the clutch. In theory, with all due respect to Eric Wright, the Lions can't cover Roddy White. Tony Gonzalez can make plays, either. But I'm not convinced Ryan will have the necessary time to get the ball down field. And even though offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey ran the ball consistently, and Turner had great success, against the Panthers, precedent this year says Mularkey will throw the ball first and foremost.
On the flip side, I was pleasantly surprised how much the Falcons defense contained Cam Newton. But this challenged pass defense doesn't have much of a chance against Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Since the beginning of 2008, Johnson has 38 receiving touchdowns, the most in the NFL. Brandon Pettigrew and rookie receiver Titus Young can fluster this defensive backfield.
Now, I am genuinely concerned about the Lions inability to run in this game. Jahvid Best is coming off of his second concussion. Ronnie Brown was a Lion, for about a day, until the deal was voided. But the way the Falcons defense has been ripped apart this year, by the likes of Tarvaris Jackson, I feel pretty good about the Lions winning behind Stafford's arm.
The Lions have a legit home field advantage. The crowd is rabid with the incredible change in the culture. Offensive lines can't focus and linemen are jumping off sides. Turner told me this week on SiriusXM NFL Radio they are trying to simulate crowd noise in practice. Good luck with that.
Lions 31, Falcons 24. Bag it, Schrager.