Saturday night's matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions will showcase two teams going in different directions. Atlanta has punched its ticket to the playoffs by claiming the NFC South title. The Lions have punched themselves.
Atlanta is one win away from home-field advantage in the postseason. Detroit is one loss away from making it seven straight. Atlanta has won 12 of its last 14. Detroit has lost 10 of its last 14.
Atlanta is headed north. Detroit is plummeting south.
On paper, this game should be a lock for the Falcons. Frankly, it's hard to find a way Detroit beats Atlanta. Until you look at the human factor—the factor that tells you it will be a long day for the Falcons should they play the Lions in and themselves out.
The longer Atlanta allows Detroit to stay in this game the greater the Lions' confidence grows. Like its remaining regular-season games, this one should be all about Atlanta playing its style. Start fast, finish strong.