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Game of the Week: Falcons at Lions
Ford Field finds itself center stage once again in the gridiron world after Week 6's scuffle between Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh. However, this affair hopes to keep its' wrestles during regulation as the upstart 5-1 Lions take on last season's regular-season conference champion Atlanta Falcons in the WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
Detroit, notorious for their early-season comebacks from seemingly insurmountable deficits, got a dose of their own medicine last week as San Francisco scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to knock the Lions from the pack of unbeatens. Still, few pigskin pundits would have imagined Detroit to be 5-1 at this juncture of the season. Built on the explosive arm of Matthew Stafford (1,729 yards, 98.2 QB rating, 15 touchdowns) and deep-threat deftness of Calvin Johnson (36 receptions, 564 yards, nine touchdowns), the Lions are averaging 29.7 points per game, second-best in the NFC. While the rushing game has mostly been held in check (90.8 yards per game, 13th in the conference), Jahvid Best has had his moments (like going for 163 yards on the ground against the Bears in Week 5) and has 390 rushing yards and another 287 through the air for the Lions.
But we'd be remiss in failing to mention the Detroit defense, which has been the catalyst for the marvelous start in Motown. The Lions are holding opponents to 19 points per contest while suffocating them to the tune of 335 total yards, third-best in the NFC. The rush resistance is nothing to scuff at, but it is the secondary that has boasted the unit as one of the league's best, smothering their aerial adversaries to a conference-low 205.5 yards per game. The defense has also managed more interceptions (eight) than surrendered passing scores (seven).
Unfortunately, the Falcons are on the opposite side of the secondary spectrum. One of the better protectors against the pass last season, Atlanta is giving up 282.8 yards per outing this season, second-worst in the conference. The Dirty Birds have been opportunistic, snagging nine picks, but opposing signal callers have had their way in the early going against Mike Smith's squad.
Luckily for Atlanta, a balanced offensive attack has kept the team floating through the first six weeks. Running back Michael Turner is inflicting his usual damage with 499 yards and six touchdowns in the early going, and rookie Julio Jones has lived up to his hype, hauling in 25 catches for 358 yards. But all is not right in the Georgia Dome. Despite posting solid numbers (34 receptions, 373 yards, two touchdowns), Roddy White has not been his usual self. The perennial Pro Bowler leads the league in drops, and has been disgruntled for the past few weeks. Odd, as White is second in the NFL in targets with 60 passes in his direction. If Atlanta hopes to surmount a postseason run, White will need an about-face for the Falcon offense to fly.
So who wins this matchup in the Motor City? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Lions come out on top 53.1 percent of the time by an average score of 22-20. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:
Please note: The Colts/Saints, Chiefs/Raiders, Seahawks/Browns, Falcons/Lions, Redskins/Panthers, Texans/Titans, Packers/Vikings and Ravens/Jaguars were resimulated on 10/20 to account for injuries, trades and roster updates.
NFL Week 7
|St. Louis Rams||12.3||14||Boxscore|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||87.7||30||Simulate Game|
|@ New Orleans Saints||83.2||30||Simulate Game|
|@ Miami Dolphins||61.9||20||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||40.4||20||Boxscore|
|@ Oakland Raiders||59.6||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Cleveland Browns||56.1||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||53.1||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Carolina Panthers||49.5||21||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||53.7||24||Boxscore|
|@ New York Jets||46.3||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||46.3||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Tennessee Titans||45.8||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||24.5||18||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||81.3||27||Boxscore|
|@ Minnesota Vikings||18.7||15||Simulate Game|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||8.3||10||Simulate Game|
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