Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions Preview

The Falcons offensive line will likely again struggle to protect Matt Ryan against a fierce Detroit Lions defense. (Seth Ryan)

The Falcons offensive line will likely again struggle to protect Matt Ryan against a fierce Detroit Lions defense. (Seth Ryan)

Not much is going right for the Atlanta Falcons.

At 2-5, they’re on a four-game losing streak. In each consecutive game during that streak, the offense has scored fewer points. All of the Falcons’ five losses have come by double digits.

And although Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions in London’s Wembley Stadium qualifies as a “home” game for the Falcons, they’re still away from the Georgia Dome. Atlanta’s just 1-11 over its past 12 games away from home, with the sole victory coming against the Buffalo Bills last season in the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

In last week’s 29-7 blowout loss against the Ravens in Baltimore, Atlanta lost center Peter Konz for the season. Konz joins Joe Hawley, Lamar Holmes, Mike Johnson, and Sam Baker on injured reserve to bring the total offensive linemen lost for the season to five.

And now the current makeshift offensive line has to deal with Ezekiel Ansah, Ndamukong Suh, and a Detroit Lions (5-2) defense that has piled up 21 sacks, ranking third in the league.

The Falcons mustered 254 yards against last week against the Ravens. It was Atlanta’s lowest offensive output of the season, and now that struggling offense is taking on a Lions team that boasts the league’s best defense, allowing just 290.3 yards per game.

Detroit also ranks second in the league in points allowed with 15.0.

However, the possible return of Harry Douglas could add a much-needed element to the Falcons offense. The wide receiver practiced today for the first time since suffering an injury in Week 3.

Despite their defensive prowess, the Lions haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders on offense as the 24th ranking in total yards and 25th ranking in points per game indicates. Those struggles are in large part due to the absence of stud wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

The focal point of Detroit’s offense has been hobbled by an ankle injury that forced him to miss the past couple of weeks. In Weeks 4 and 5, Johnson served as a decoy, hauling in just three receptions for 19 yards in those two games combined.

Johnson was able to return to practice today and will likely be a game-time decision on Sunday.

Although the Falcons are three games below .500, they still have a solid chance at making the playoffs, and that’s because they’re still in the thick of things in their division.

The NFC South can make a convincing case for being the league’s worst division at this point in the season: the Carolina Panthers lead the division with a 3-3-1 record, and the New Orleans Saints, selected as a Super Bowl favorite by many analysts, have a 2-4 record. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers bring up the rear with a 1-5 record.

Atlanta needs this win to keep pace. I don’t think it’ll happen, however. I initially had this chalked up as a win for the Falcons, but I’m going to change that as this is a very tough matchup for a Falcons team that has too many problems on both sides of the ball.

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