5 reasons why the Falcons must beat Lions

 

Andrew, Allen and Denise McMillan are big supporters of Matthew Stafford. (This was taken during Stafford's first mini-camp with the Lions in May of 2009.)  (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)
Andrew, Allen and Denise McMillan are big supporters of Matthew Stafford. (This was taken during Stafford’s first mini-camp with the Lions in May of 2009.) (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The 2011 season hasn’t started quite exactly the way the Falcons envisioned.

“They haven’t had what they would consider a great start to the season,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said.  ”But we can’t let them get on track.”

But they haven’t fallen completely off the map like say Minnesota (1-5), Indianapolis (0-6), Jacksonville (1-5) and Denver (1-4).

Here’s why the game against Detroit is so important.

If the Falcons can beat a team with a winning record they could establish a degree of legitimacy as a playoff contender. (It might be wise to forgot about the Super Bowl stuff, for now. That’s a pipe dream until they start stopping folks on third down. They are last in the league at 49 percent in third down inefficiency.)

The Falcons have victories over Philadelphia (2-4), Seattle (2-3), and Carolina (1-5). They have been beaten by Chicago (3-3), Tampa Bay (4-2) and Green Bay (6-0). There’s a pattern in there somewhere.

So here are five reasons why the Falcons must beat the Detroit Lions:

1. Beat a winner: The defending NFC South Champs need to knock off the upstart Lions (5-1) at Ford Field to show that they can beat a team with a winning record before going into the bye week.

2. Conference play:  The Falcons already have three conference losses, one of the key playoff tiebreakers.

3. Consistency: They need to break another hideous pattern: L-W-L-W-L-W. They have been up and down this season and have not played with “consistency.”

4. Wildcard race: Barring a Wayne Fontes-styled collapse, the Lions will likely be at the playoff finish line. The Falcons need to get the head-to-head advantage over one of the NFC North teams. The Lions and Falcons could finish 10-6 like Green Bay and Tampa Bay did last season. Green Bay got the last seed and Tampa Bay was at home. We know how that worked out.

5. Better vacation: I’m sure the bye week is much more enjoyable for the team coming of a W.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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112 comments Add your comment

robert

October 20th, 2011
6:49 am

just get the w

The Real Falcon

October 20th, 2011
6:50 am

Run the ball, keep Matt clean, rest Julio.
Just win!

LyonsJimmy

October 20th, 2011
7:06 am

just win baby!

PoolerSpirit

October 20th, 2011
7:39 am

Where’s the Bird Cage?!!

FAL CON YEAH!

October 20th, 2011
7:50 am

Michael M.

October 20th, 2011
8:19 am

Its going to be a Cat Fight up there…maybe Atlanta can keep their feathers and escape with a Win !

kendall

October 20th, 2011
8:20 am

I feel a win coming on!! On a real note, like D-Led said, this is a conference game, and I’d say the most important game thus far. A win will go a long way, not only for our Falcons, but for the team spirit as well.

Jamaaliver

October 20th, 2011
8:28 am

Should read: Barring an Atlanta Braves like collapse.

Steve from McDonough

October 20th, 2011
8:30 am

Why is our third down defense so bad?

Season Ticker Holder

October 20th, 2011
8:30 am

To be a top contender, you must win on the road and beat teams with a winning record!!! GO FALCONS!

Big Dude

October 20th, 2011
8:45 am

The Falcons D line is going to have to step it up a notch and get to their QB or its going to be a long day. Matty Ice will need extra protection Sunday or he might get hurt. Somehow give the left tackle some help to protect Matty Ice.

I think I think

October 20th, 2011
8:46 am

Falcons must have this win!!! Falcons went wrong by trying to fix that which wasn’t broken. Matt Ryan isn’t a sling the ball around all over the field QB like Brady, Manning, Brees, etc. Neither is the O-line. And running that type of offense lends to a greater chance of our defense being on the field more. We must keep our defense off the field with time of possesion. Falcons must RUN THE BALL and use PLAY ACTION PASS to be successful!!!

Escaped from Email Purgatory

October 20th, 2011
8:52 am

This team is not playoff calibre. Last season’s record was based on a confluence of good fortune and sound execution of a modest game plan by disciplined team that made few mistakes. The Birds plan was score early, eat up the clock, keep the defense off the field, and hang on.

The best game we’ve played in 2011 was when we followed that plan. Unfortunately, not everybody has the worst run defense in the league like Carolina. And we can’t play every game at home.

Doubtful Detroit will give up significant yardage to Turner this week. And as goes Turner, so goes Ryan. His steady diet of dink-and-dunk passes, punctuated by an occasional attempt at “airing it out” has been on ample display in every Falcons’ loss.

And Brent Grimes has cover responsibility for Calvin Johnson this week? Why do I get this mental image of Jeff Van Gundy hanging onto Alonzo Mourning’s ankle?

Nothing against Brent, but unless our vaunted D line of Abraham, Babineaux, Peters and Edwards can gin up some pressure, Stafford will be playing catch with Johnson all day.

If six games of the season are any indication of the quality of the respective teams, this Sunday, it shouldn’t even be close.

And poor ol’ Matt will be looking out of his earhole before halftime.

Here’s one way for those of a definitely negative bend like me can amuse themselves during the blood-letting: count the number of timed Dunta (call me Dontay) Robinson avoids tackling the ball carrier. He’s become darned good at it. I predict at least three worthy efforts by our esteemed cornerback.

joe white

October 20th, 2011
8:55 am

Yes sir I am hoping the coaching staff is putting this into the players head that this is a must win game period and the rest of the games really are must wins. The defense is playing better but the offense must continue to run the ball.

North FLA Falcon

October 20th, 2011
8:57 am

Score first, win the game.

Scotty

October 20th, 2011
9:05 am

I ain’t gonna lie to ya, here’s 5 reasons WHY The Falcons will beat the Lions, and its as simple as that.
1. Matty Ice is unbelievable
2. Detroit’s run d is suspect and Turner is gonna have a huge day.
3. You know that old phrase rise up? Falcons defense will rattle stafford.
4. They have better coaching and MM will be creative and Ryan masters the no huddle.
5. They have two key running backs out.

It’s as simple as that boys. Falcons win by 10. heheheheheh

Caseman

October 20th, 2011
9:07 am

Scotty It sounds to me like you have a man crush

Lions are going to win big

Scotty

October 20th, 2011
9:09 am

Caseman you seem negative and delusional.

Scotty

October 20th, 2011
9:10 am

We have better coaching*

Jamaaliver

October 20th, 2011
9:17 am

@ Escaped from Purgatory:

Detroit’s run defense is one of the worst in the league. Their defensive specialty is rushing the passer. Also, for decades, teams have won consistently with an approach of run the ball, stop the run, play consistent turnover free football and win.

Bill Parcells, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin, Brian Billick, Jon Gruden all won Super Bowls following this edict. Though today’s NFL loves the long ball and 400 yards passing by a QB, it’s this approach that will consistently keep us as one of the elite teams in the NFL and will allow us to compete for championships the rest of the decade.

We’re built to win games like this and I think you’ll see that this Sunday. Run the ball down their throats. Calvin Johnson can’t catch TDs if he’s on the sidelines watching our offense all game.

ctfalconsfan

October 20th, 2011
9:17 am

Scotty one item we don’t have is better coaching than anyone.

I think week in and week out Smitty and his staff, particuarly Mularkey, are out coached.

I don’t know much about Schwartz but let’s see on Sunday.

- Falcons should easily win this game!!

dean

October 20th, 2011
9:23 am

Action speaks. B.S. walks.

We’ll find out Sunday what ATL is. Or isn’t. 24-17 ATL is my pick.

painter

October 20th, 2011
9:25 am

This game will be easier than Green Bay. Lions are in for a big surprise.

Nik

October 20th, 2011
9:33 am

Thanks for the random picture of these people by the way…

Nik

October 20th, 2011
9:35 am

They must win because in an NFL schedule every week us uber-important.

hawesg

October 20th, 2011
9:41 am

FREE THE QUIZZZ!!!

falconsnut

October 20th, 2011
9:42 am

At least if we win, Mike Smith won’t be jumping up and down and slapping Schwartz on the back. He has more class than that. As big of fan as I am, I’m afraid Purgatory may be right. Prove him wrong.

Caseman

October 20th, 2011
9:42 am

Dertoit 24 Falcons 10

Lions D-Line is gonna put a hurt on the falcons

Scotty

October 20th, 2011
9:43 am

Michael Turner is gonna run wide a** open Sunday afternoon

SirReal

October 20th, 2011
9:46 am

Turner 30 carries
Snelling 5 (runs like he really doesnt want to play for ATL anymore)
Rogers 3 ( SOOOO underutilized its not funny)

If Baker can hold up when we do pass the ball, we may have a shot. Its still the Lions and their skin is JUST now starting to become leather. They still have soft spots. My concern is OUR team. Will we actually string two wins together now? Thats MY question D. Led.

P.S. Thanks for the comment about the Super Bowl. Definitely a pipe dream right now. NO team can win when your D is absolute GARBAGE on 3rd down. When you rank last…you are GARBAGE.

glacialspeed

October 20th, 2011
9:57 am

L-W-L-W-L-W is pretty consistent, just not consistently GOOD.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 20th, 2011
10:00 am

6. Because I said so! : And I must be obeyed.

joekill

October 20th, 2011
10:06 am

get back to falcon football run the ball take care of the ball solid play action pass from the iceman and rest julio also i look for roddy white to have a huge day at the office becuse everyone else is drooling over calvin johnson hello people roddy white is a pro bowl wr as well i look for him to have a big day and also last but not least the d has got to play big im looking for big play ray edwards off the edge and also the linebackers have to make plays and i want daunta robinson to shut down number 81 i want him to be like glue him and grimes and crew will do their job.
RISE UP ATL!

North FLA Falcon

October 20th, 2011
10:06 am

Why do UGA fans owe any loyalty to Stafford. He gave up on his team halfway through his final season with the ‘Dawgs. He was phoning it in.

Scotty

October 20th, 2011
10:10 am

UGA fans dont owe any loyalty. Then you have that thug Fairley that plays for them.

D man

October 20th, 2011
10:11 am

Every game is a must win in the NFL. Go FALCONS!!!

bigcrimson75

October 20th, 2011
10:17 am

Ahhhhhhhhhh the memories, playing Stafford & the Lions this week reminds me of the ol black out funeral in Athens a couple years ago !!!
The Falcons can win this game. We gotta stop there run & rattle Stafford. This game is on the D. They must set the tempo.
Falcons get up early & hold on — Atl 27 Det 23

I think I think

October 20th, 2011
10:20 am

Scotty…..
What is your definition of Thug???

Escaped from Email Purgatory

October 20th, 2011
10:21 am

@Jamalliver

I hope you’re correct about this Sunday. But it sounds to me like you’re describing last year’s Falcons. Six games in, this team scares no one – particularly on the road – and they haven’t been able to execute the game plan you described.

And surely you’re not comparing the 2011 Birds to great teams of the past that employed a ball-control offense. Most of the coach/team combinations you mentioned had he-man defenses. Heck, our defense barely earns a metrosexual rating from any objective observer.

And I don’t have long ball envy. I’ve been watching Matt Ryan for three years now so I’m more realistic than that. It would be nice if we could prove we have the capability to connect on a long pass every once in a while. And certainly, the organization didn’t give up the store for Julio Jones so he could block for Turner and catch five-yard out passes from our spaghetti-armed QB.

The Falcons need more fans like you.

SteveBartkowski

October 20th, 2011
10:23 am

If the birds lose I will be counting down the days until pitchers report for spring training.

5 reasons why they won't

October 20th, 2011
10:25 am

1)They can’t beat a winning team with a good QB
2)They have a hard time beating NFC teams(except the Panthers)
3)They can’t win 2 in a row especially against a good QBacked team
4)3rd Place in their division does not equal Playoffs
5)They will need a vacation after getting mugged in Detroit!

Gamer

October 20th, 2011
10:27 am

FOR ALL THE REASONS GIVEN ABOVE, I TOTALLY AGREE THAT THE FALCONS NEED TO BRING THEIR LUNCH-PAIL TO THE LION’S DEN AND GET THEIR GRUBBING ON!!

HEADING INTO THE BYE WEEK WITH A ROAD VICTORY AGAINST A YOUNG BUT STOUT LIONS TEAM WOULD BE A GOOD STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND A GOOD WAY TO BOOST FALCONS PLAYERS CONFIDENCE.

FALCONS PLAY TO WIN EVERY DOWN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL, SPELLS VICTORY FOR THE FALCONS.

SteveBartkowski

October 20th, 2011
10:28 am

5 reasons why speculation is stupid

1 – nobody knows what’s going to happen (example – St Louis in the World Series)
2-5, see #1 point

Fal Can

October 20th, 2011
10:31 am

There will be a “SUH-Nami” at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday! The worst thing that happened to the Falcons was the 49ers winning last Sunday. Detroit will be re-focused and ready to establish their identity against Atlanta. Also, with Julio looking suspect, that means that Turner will get 28-30 touches, and Matty Ice will have another “Ham & Egg”/”Dink & Dunk” performance. It won’t be enough this week: Detroit 24 Atlanta 16

SteveBartkowski

October 20th, 2011
10:38 am

Falcons 4, Lions 2 – it will go seven games

Mike Franklin

October 20th, 2011
10:38 am

The Lions are on a roll based mostly on confidence. This is virgin ground for them… and it will be difficult to mess with them. But if the Falcs get to the 3rd qtr in the lead, there may be a deja vu moment for Detroit that sends them a few years back in time.

AXETRIP

October 20th, 2011
10:40 am

Let Turner and Snelling take care of business and we will get that W

Mikefalcon63

October 20th, 2011
10:56 am

DLED: How about a detailed interview with Smitty to help us understand why we have had trouble on 3rd down the past few years. Does our scheme allow for 3rd down completions? All we here is “We have to be better on 3rd down.” Well no kidding. But why have we been so bad in 3rd down situations?

reebok

October 20th, 2011
11:00 am

Playoffs? Wildcard? Seriously? The Falcons will be 3-4 on Sunday afternoon. To get to 9-7, which gives them an outside shot to sneak into the playoffs, they will have to go 6-3. To give themselves a much better shot at 10-6, they will have to go 7-2. The Falcons couldn’t go 7-2 if they played Carolina 9 straight times.

eturn

October 20th, 2011
11:26 am

Ok Falcon fans..Ive read the comments and see that most people expect the Falcons to win and some say its a must win..Sooool what if they Lose…. what then should happen.