Falcons vs. Lions: Breaking Down Saturday's Marquee Week 16 Matchup

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With the Detroit Lions missing out on a playoff chance already and the Atlanta Falcons already locked in as the NFC South champions, there are serious questions surrounding what type of game to expect on Week 16’s edition of Saturday Night Football.

Judging from the talent on both rosters, this should be an amazing matchup.


Where: Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan

When: Saturday, December 22nd at 8:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN, NFL RedZone or online at Game Rewind

Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 93 or online at Audio Pass

Betting Line: Atlanta by 4.5, according to Bovada


Atlanta’s Player to Watch: Matt Ryan, QB

With the duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones out wide and a tight end like Tony Gonzalez in the middle, Atlanta Falcons star QB Matt Ryan is on pace to have the best statistical season of his young career.

As great as Ryan’s season has been—4,202 yards and 27 touchdowns—the Falcons’ QB has thrown eight interceptions in the last six games. While he hasn’t looked terrible during that stretch, Ryan must protect the football against the Detroit Lions.

With a lackluster Lions secondary that has improved in the second half of the season—11th in the league giving up 218.1 yards per game—how Ryan plays in this Saturday night matchup will depict how he performs in the playoffs.


Detroit’s Player to Watch: Calvin Johnson, WR

There is no better wide receiver in the NFL than the freak they call Megatron, Lions star Calvin Johnson. Even against a tough Atlanta secondary—giving up 229.5 passing per game—expect the giant pass-catcher to bring in at least 10 receptions.

Detroit has made a concerted effort to get the ball to Johnson as much as possible over the last five weeks, and his seven straight games with over 100 yards and four touchdowns in his last six games makes him the Lions’ top weapon.

Johnson has amassed 106 catches so far in 2012, and two weeks left of NFL football will see him bring that number to another level. Add in his 1,667 yards, and you’d be foolish to take your eyes off Megatron for even a second in this game.


Prediction: Atlanta 34, Detroit 24

While there is no doubt that the Lions will constantly feed the ball to Calvin Johnson Thursday night, the elite passing game of the Atlanta Falcons will get Detroit on the ropes early and never give them a chance to really mount a comeback.

Despite the home-field advantage for Detroit, the Lions will lose yet another heartbreaking game against a serious NFC contender. The Falcons are just looking to come out of Week 16 with the win and staying healthy.

In what should be one of the most exciting matchups of the entire weekend, Atlanta’s defense will come up with one more big play than Detroit’s and seal the win for Matt Ryan and the Falcons.


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