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Opponent Profile: Lions Defense Is Scary Good

By Matthew Asher

So much for Smitty’s “To Do List” that was unveiled last week that was supposed to stop Atlanta’s losing woes. The Falcons (2-5) have now lost their fourth straight game, this time a 29-7 beatdown at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. Atlanta will travel to Wembley Stadium in London, England where they play the “host” to the Detroit Lions (5-2) in Week 8.

Detroit's Offense

The Lions offense ranks in the bottom third of the league in points scored, total yards and rushing yards. The one high mark for Detroit’s offense is their passing attack, which averages just under 250 yards a game, 13th best in the NFL. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 1891 yards, 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions for a passer rating of 87.9.

Of course, anytime someone mentions the current Detroit offense, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson comes to mind instantly. However, due to an ankle injury, Megatron didn’t play in the previous two Lions games, and recorded just one reception in Week 5. Still, the Lions are winning games without Johnson’s aid. In the five games Megatron has played, he has 22 receptions for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Golden Tate has made the most of his snaps with Megatron currently out. He’s picked up 48 catches for 649 yards and two touchdowns himself. Running back Reggie Bush missed the Week 6 game, but he’s responsible for 25 catches and 164 receiving yards to go along with his 49 rushing attempts 171 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.

Bush is one of three Lions to record at least one rushing touchdown. Running back Joique Bell leads the team in carries (84), rushing yards (274) and rushing touchdowns (3). Stafford has also run the ball 23 times for 36 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns of his own.

Detroit’s Defense

Simply put, Detroit's defense is what’s keeping the team on the right track. They rank in the top 10 in most defensive categories. They currently lead the league in limiting total yardage (290.3) and have the second stingiest scoring defense that allows just 15 points a game. They also do a great job at limiting the rushing game, allowing just 73.4 yards a game, the second best in the league. Finally, the 216.9 passing yards given up are the seventh least in the NFL.

There haven’t been any spectacular individual effort on defense, but the Lions play well as a team, and it’s been working so far. As a team, Detroit has picked up 21 sacks. George Johnson leads the team with 4 sacks and Ezekiel Ansah is right behind Johnson with 3.5 sacks. Ndamukong Suh has 3 sacks as well.

The Lions have also recorded 8 interceptions. Glover Quin leads the team with three picks but Rashean Mathis is the lone Lion to record a pick-six as he is responsible for a 41-yard INT return TD, his only interception of the season so far.

Conclusion

This doesn’t look promising. While Detroit's offense has been stagnant, they’ve obviously been competent enough to win games without Megatron catching passes for the team. Atlanta’s offense has had lots of trouble scoring the past few weeks and if the Lions defense stays as strong as it’s been it’s going to be a very long flight back from England. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 am ET. #RiseUp

For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.

Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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