If you had looked at this game before the season started, it could have looked like a pretty good one. Both teams seemed like they were legitimate playoff contenders, so it was quite possible that the Falcons and Lions would be battling for a playoff berth, or trying to secure a better position in the postseason. The Falcons have absolutely done their job — they can secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win here. The Lions, though, have been in a disaster. Head coach Jim Schwartz said after an ugly loss to the Cardinals last week that the team was off the rails, and he couldn’t be any more right. They took a massive step forward last year, but now it is as if that season never happened. The offense produces stats but not enough points, the defense is hopeless, and “effort” is increasingly a foreign word. They just aren’t very good.
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If the Falcons decide they want to win this one then they are very likely to do so. The question at this time of year, of course, is just how much they will actually care about the game. They can clinch home-field advantage, but they are likely to get a bye and at least one home game no matter what, so they may be more interested in getting ready for the postseason than in playing a great game here. We’ve certainly seen that before late in a season — like we did in much of the Manning era in Indianapolis. Atlanta is reasonably healthy, and the Falcons would very much like to stay that way heading into the postseason. Therefore, they aren’t entirely predictable here. Nor is it predictable whether the Lions will show up at all. They certainly didn’t last week, and they have now dropped six in a row. But their last three home losses have been by an average of just a field goal, so they can certainly be competitive at home when they want to be.
Falcons at Lions Betting Storylines
It has been a very odd year for Matthew Stafford. At first glance his numbers are sound — he has passed for 4,252 yards. There are major problems, though — his touchdown passes have fallen from 41 to 17, his yards per attempt are at a lousy 6.8 after hitting 7.6 last year, and his 59.5-percent completion rate isn’t impressive. Last year Stafford was a whole new player. Now he’s just the guy he has always been. While it has been a season Stafford will be happy to see end, there is at least a little motivation left for him. His megastar receiver, Calvin Johnson, is just 182 yards away from breaking the all-time single season record held by Jerry Rice — 1,848 yards. Stafford and Johnson haven’t had flawless chemistry this year by any means despite all the yardage, but you can be sure that the QB will be looking to get his receiver the record — regardless of what it takes to get it.
Atlanta has a very impressive 12-2 record — the best in the league. Recently, though, they have not traveled well at all. They have lost two of their last three road games, and the lone win in that stretch was by a single point. The losses have been at Carolina and New Orleans — divisional rivals that they really should be able to beat this year given their issues. They have been considerably more consistent at home, so the issues have to be mental. They likely won’t travel a lot for the next month, but they hope to have at least one more road game — the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 in New Orleans — so they should be looking to get back on track away from home in this one. Their first four road games were solid — though not against strong teams — so it’s certainly possible for them to play well away from home.
Falcons at Lions NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The line opened with the Falcons favored just by a field goal. The action has been heavily on them, though, and that has forced the line up to 3.5, and even four in some spots. The total opened at 51 points and has fallen only slightly to 50.5.
The teams met in Detroit last October, with Atlanta winning 23-16 as 4.5 point underdogs. The Lions have failed to cover their last four games against NFC opponents. The underdog has covered in four of the last five meetings between these teams.
NFL Picks: Falcons at Lions Betting Predictions
The Lions are a total mess, the Falcons should be motivated for several reasons, and this one shouldn’t be close. If Detroit cared this one could get interesting, but they just want their agony to end. Atlanta is the clear choice, and laying 3.5 points is a fair price.
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