TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 16: Atlanta Falcons At Detroit Lions

Falcons
Lions
(Photo: Getty Images)
Getty Images
(Photo: Getty Images)
Getty Images
Quarterback
Winner The Falcons have to set their minds on the postseason and they can’t do it by letting a late-season game get away. Matt Ryan is about to face the greatest pressure of his career when the Falcons play their first playoff game and he would be best prepared by sharpening his skills as he gets prepared for that game. He must avoid bad mistakes and turnovers.
It has not been a good second half of the season and the Lions could be making changes in their coaching staff at the end of the season. Despite that distraction, quarterback Matthew Stafford has had a big year in terms of yardage. The Lions would like to see him turn big leads and big yardage totals into victories.
Offense
Winner The Falcons have a diverse attack and two of the best receivers in the league in Roddy White and Julio Jones. White has been slowed by a sprained ankle and Jones has had nagging injuries as well. Veteran Tony Gonzalez can easily take advantage of the Lions’ secondary. Michael Turner is a bowling ball of a running back who can punish tacklers but he is not a breakaway threat.
The Lions are one of the great enigmas of the 2012 season. They make explosive plays and they roll up big leads but they just can’t bring home wins on a consistent basis. Calvin Johnson is considered a top-three wide receiver in the league, but it’s got to be frustrating to play for a team that can’t get out of its own way.
Defense
Winner The Falcons are coming off a key game against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, so the defense may not be all that keyed up about playing against an also-ran like the Lions. There’s a good chance that they won’t look at this game seriously. While the Lions struggle, anything but their best effort could result in Detroit putting a big number on the scoreboard.
The Lions have decent rankings against the run and the pass, but they give up key plays at the most critical moments. That’s not likely to change against a high-powered team like the Falcons. Defensive end Cliff Avril has had a solid year as a pass rusher and he can turn the corner with quickness. Nick Fairley is a destructive force on the line.
Special Teams
Winner The Falcons have done a solid job on special teams throughout the season and they have an explosive returner in Jacquizz Rodgers. Placekicker Matt Bryant has been a solid weapon for head coach Mike Smith and he has been at his best on FG attempts of 50 yards or more.
The Lions have struggled with their coverage teams since the start of the season. That’s not a great reflection on the team’s overall discipline or the competitive effort of their special teamers. Jason Hanson is a good short- and medium-range kicker, but he’s not the best kicker on longer attempts.

The Winner Is

(Photo: Getty Images)
Winner Falcons
4 out of 4

The Falcons are a much better team than the Lions and have played with more motivation and discipline in addition to the edge they have in talent. However, if the Falcons are not focused on this game, they could let it slip away despite the physical edges they have in so many areas.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the second half of the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks to throw a pass against the New England Patriots in the game at MetLife Stadium on November 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images)
    Week 13 Tale Of The Tape: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets

    The Colts are still alive for the playoffs while the Jets are just playing out the string.

  2. OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers looks to pass against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs for several yards on the quarterback keeper during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 27, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
    Week 13 Tale Of The Tape: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks

    The Panthers travel to Seattle for a date with the Seahawks.

  3. TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks for a receiver during the third quarter of an NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers passes the ball during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
    Week 13 Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Diego Chargers

    The Bucs are in second place in the NFC South and look to keep pace with the Falcons as they match-up with a tough Chargers team.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Detroit

Best Christmas Light Displays
Best Holiday Drink Ideas
Top Hidden Destinations

Watch & Listen