The Atlanta Falcons need to win one game over their next two to earn the NFC's top seed and receive home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Using a balanced offensive attack and a defense that is coming along nicely at the right time, they will beat the Detroit Lions in Week 16 to wrap up home-field.
Against the New York Giants last week, Atlanta got off to a hot start with two first-half interceptions of Eli Manning. They should have the chance to do the same against the Lions. Matthew Stafford has thrown five interceptions in his last three games as the Lions have continued to slide. Four of those interceptions have come in the first half.
The turnover battle will be the biggest key to this game. During their six-game losing streak, the Lions have turned the ball over 14 times, making it almost impossible to win. When the Lions haven't turned the ball over or just had one turnover, they have been able to stay in games. It's when they have two or more that they really get burned.
The Falcons have been very good at getting interceptions, totaling 18 so far this year with 27 total turnovers. That's not a good sign for the Lions, who certainly can't afford to turn the ball over to have a chance against the Falcons.
In addition to getting some turnovers, the Falcons will need to run the ball well to put the Lions away early and keep them at a distance. In their two losses this season, Atlanta rushed for just 46 and 35 yards, two of their three lowest outputs of the season.
They should be able to get their run game going against the Lions, who are ranked 18th in rushing yards allowed, giving up 119.4 yards per game, and 28th in yards per carry allowed, giving up a whopping 4.6 yards per run.
Using their run game and defense to pounce on the Lions, the Falcons should be able to utilize their efficient passing game that has worked so well this season. While the Lions have struggled to stop the run, they have been fairly good against the pass, giving up over 300 yards through the air just twice this season.
The Falcons may not put up huge numbers through the pass, but they likely won't need to if the defense comes through with some early turnovers and the run game is able to control the game.
The Lions have the weapons to stick with the Falcons if they play smart football, but that just hasn't been the case this season. Too many times they have blown opportunities throughout games and it's cost them a number of victories. While the Lions are dangerous for a 4-10 team, the Falcons have too much balance and discipline for this to be a competitive game.
A solid rushing attack and an opportunistic defense will help the Falcons roll into Detroit and beat up on the Lions on their way to gaining home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.