5 Key Matchups for the Detroit Lions vs Atlanta Falcons

1. CB Darius Slay vs WR Julio Jones:

Slay has had a great year so far, however this will be the biggest test for the whole year. Jones is as close to a Calvin Johnson clone as you can get in my opinion. Size, speed, jump balls– Jones will have a size and strength advantage in this one.

2. QB Matt Ryan vs Lions DBs:

The Lions will be without starting safety Tavon Wilson this game as he has been ruled out due to injury. Miles Killebrew will be starting in Wilson’s spot. This will be, in my opinion, a downgrade in coverage; however this will be an upgrade against the run. In a game where the Falcons have two great running backs, this may help the lions.

So far this season, Lions CB Quandre Diggs is PFF’s number one rated CB in the NFL.  Darius Slay is currently ranked 18th, Glover Quinn and Miles Killebrew are both ranked in the top 10 at the safety position.

They will need to bring their A game versus the NFL’s reigning MVP Matt Ryan.

3. RB Devonta Freeman vs  Lion LBs:

Freeman is a very good running back who can catch out of the back field.  The Lions are going to need to have their linebackers on point this game. If they crowd the line of scrimmage, Atlanta will thow him a swing pass outside and he will use his quickness. If the Lions play off, he will pound the ball up the gut for 3-4 yards per carry.

In addition to this tough test for the Lions, starting LB Jarrad Davis is out for this game as well as Tavon Wilson who could have come over the top to help out.

4. Lions O-Line vs Atlanta Falcons Pass Rush:

The Falcons are without NFL’s sack leader from last year, Vic Beasley Jr. However, this may not quite be the different maker that it appears on the surface. 1st round pick out of UCLA Takkarist McKinley will get his first start and will be hungry to show what he’s made of.

Lions O-Line was a wreck last week, taking a spot on my top five Lions who need improvement. Greg Robinson struggled so much that I solo’d out his performance on the improvement list last week.

5. RB Ameer Abdullah vs Falcons LBs:

Ammer Abdullah had 86 yards last game while the Lions were out to prove they can run the ball. After his solid performance, I expect to see him get the load of the carries in this game. Maybe with more carries, the confidence from the coaches, and the Falcon defense having to respect Stafford’s arm, Abdullah may break 100 yards this game.

This would not be an easy task for Abdullah though. The Falcon LB’s are probably the fastest LB core in the NFL. If the Lions try to go misdirection to make the LB’s flow one way, they can and will recover faster than other teams making each yard a struggle for Abdullah in this one.

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