The Atlanta Falcons hardly look ready for prime time this season so perhaps a trip overseas is coming at an opportune time as the struggling club attempts to halt a four-game losing streak. The Falcons have dropped all four games by double digits and look to rebound against the Detroit Lions on Sunday morning at London's Wembley Stadium. “We need to worry about this coming week,” Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We need to prepare better, practice better and play better. We know what to do."
Even though the Falcons are designated the home team, not having to play in Atlanta is a boost for the Lions, who are tied with Green Bay atop the NFC North following last week's dramatic comeback win over New Orleans. Star wideout Calvin Johnson practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday and Detroit hopes he can rejoin the lineup after missing the past two games with a high ankle sprain. It marks the first international contest for both the Falcons and Lions and will be the first NFL tilt to ever be televised at 9:30 a.m. ET.
TV: 9:30 a.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Lions -3.5. O/U: 46.5
ABOUT THE FALCONS (2-5): Atlanta came into the season with questions surrounding its defense, but the Falcons have struggled on the other side of the ball - blowing a 10-point second-half lead against the New York Giants in Week 5 and scoring only one touchdown in each of their last two losses to Chicago (27-13) and Baltimore (29-7). Ryan opened the season with a 448-yard, three-TD performance in a win over New Orleans, but he has been limited to one scoring pass in four of the past six games. An already-suspect running game has been further hindered by an injury-ravaged offensive line that is missing four starters. Atlanta is 30th overall in both points (28.4) and total yards (412.1) and has only seven sacks.
ABOUT THE LIONS (5-2): Johnson has been a non-factor since his ankle issues cropped up in Week 4, but Detroit has compensated for the superstar receiver's loss with a defense that permits a league-low 290.3 yards and ranks second with 15.0 points allowed. The Lions have also registered 21 sacks and could build upon that total against Ryan, who has been sacked nine times over the past two games. Lions quarterback Matt Stafford has thrown for only nine scoring passes versus six interceptions, but he rallied Detroit with two TD passes in the final 3:38 last week to erase a 13-point deficit against the Saints. Golden Tate had 10 catches for 154 yards and a TD last week and has at least seven receptions in four straight games.
1. Falcons WR Jones and Detroit's Tate rank Nos. 3-4 in the league with 49 and 48 catches, respectively.
2. Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) did not practice Thursday.
3. Atlanta has won three straight against Detroit, but the last two have been at home.
PREDICTION: Lions 23, Falcons 20
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