Down to two games in the season and it doesn’t get easier for the Detroit Lions (4-10). Here are five things the Lions need to do to beat the Atlanta Falcons (12-2) at Ford Field on Saturday night. Kickoff is 8:30 p.m.
1. Open up more options on offense. Easier said than done with the newer wide receivers just getting used to the offense. Calvin Johnson is always the go-to guy but it’s tough when he is double- and triple-covered.
2. Play with intensity for 60 minutes or whatever it takes. Ford Field will be sold-out which should fire up the home team. If it doesn’t, something is seriously wrong. Basically this is a Monday Night Football game on Saturday night. Same hoopla. A national TV audience will be watching.
3. Matthew Stafford must play better. The 38-10 loss was not all on him, but he did not play well. It’s tough missing Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles and Titus Young, but he has to step up. After throwing three interceptions Sunday, it doesn’t get easier. The Falcons defense has 18 interceptions so far including 10 from Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning combined. The Falcons have held opponents without a passing touchdown in four of its last five games.
4. Don’t give Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan time. The defensive line must apply pressure early and often. Ryan has thrown 27 touchdown passes with just 14 interceptions and has a 97.5 quarterback rating.
5. The secondary must come together and play mistake-free. Louis Delmas said he’ll play which adds a spark. He’ll likely be alongside Don Carey. Chris Houston will face his old team, the Falcons, likely with Jonte Green also starting at cornerback now that Jacob Lacey is gone for the final two games.
Prediction: Falcons 28, Lions 24.