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10 things I think I know about Week 3: Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions

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Which Falcons team will show up in Detroit? Here are 10 things I think I know heading into Week 3 against the Falcons.

Detroit Lions v Atlanta Falcons

Both the Lions and Falcons are riding high after Week 2 wins in primetime. As the Falcons head to Detroit, the Lions will be looking for their first 3-0 start since 2011.

It won’t be easy to beat a hot Atlanta team, but if the Lions want to be recognized as the NFL’s best defense, defeating the reigning MVP would be a good place to start. Here are 10 things I think I know heading into Week 3 against the Falcons:

1. I think I love Jim Bob Cooter’s use of a situational game plan on offense. Ever since Calvin Johnson retired, the Lions offense doesn’t have a true No. 1 target. But so far this season, that has actually played to the Lions’ advantage. In Week 1, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay were featured in the game plan to attack the Cardinals’ weak No. 2 cornerback. In Week 2, Eric Ebron took advantage of Giants’ linebackers.

This week, watch for the running backs to be featured in the pass game. Packers running back Ty Montgomery had six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown last week against the Falcons.

2. I think Ziggy Ansah will get be back in the national spotlight this season. After racking up three sacks against the Giants—one more than he had all last season—I think it’s time for people start talking about him like they did before his injuries piled up last season. Yes, it was against Ereck Flowers, but that is exactly how the Lions want their premier pass rusher to perform against inferior competition.

Detroit Lions v New York Giant

3. I think the Lions special teams unit is the best in the league. Football Outsiders, an NFL analytics site, gave the Lions the third-best odds to win Super Bowl right now. But they also gave the Lions their top rating for specials teams after Week 2. Against the Giants, Jeff Locke was serviceable, Matt Prater once again showed why he’s the best kicker in the NFL, and Jamal Agnew proved he deserves to be the full-time kick and punt returner.

4. I think the run game is a work in progress. The Lions still haven’t had a 100-yard rusher, but they did run the ball well against a tough Giants defense, particularly late in the game. Ameer Abdullah averaged 5.1 yards per carry with 86 yards on 17 attempts. This week’s matchup against the Atlanta should be a good one. Atlanta’s rush defense is currently 31st in the NFL, giving up 5.4 yards per rush attempt.

5. I think Darius Slay was spectacular at the end of the Giants game. The Giants were driving late in the game. It was a long shot, but the game certainly wasn’t out of reach. That’s when Darius Slay made two of the better defensive plays this season to keep the Giants out of the endzone.

6. I think Matthew Stafford has a whole new level of control over the offense. The maturation of Stafford started last season, but after Monday night, I’m seeing it in a whole new light. From the checks at the line to distributing the football across the offense, Stafford look comfortable and in command. My favorite play of Week 2 was actually an incomplete pass.

Right before the end of the third quarter, Stafford caught the Giants trying to substitute defenders, rushed the team to the line and fired off a risk-free pass down the field knowing the Giants had 12 men on the field. The pass was incomplete, but it could have been an enormous play during the game. It was the type of play you see out of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers on almost a weekly basis. I loved seeing that type of play from Stafford.

7. I think the Giants did a good job of containing the Lions running backs in the pass game. Early in the game my Twitter feed was distraught with unhappy fans because Dwayne Washington was in the game on third down instead of Theo Riddick. But the fact of the matter was that the Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo does a great job of forcing running backs to stay in to protect on third down by sending blitzers. It’s all about finding the right matchups to exploit week to week.

Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons

8. I think the Lions caught a break this week with a few key injuries to the Falcons. It looks like both Vic Beasley and Courtney Upshaw will be out for Sunday’s game. That should bring a big sigh of relief to Greg Robinson after he struggled against star defensive end Olivier Vernon in Week 2. The Falcons will rely on rookie Takkarist McKinley to step up in relief of Beasley.

The Falcons could also be without starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder who is currently in the league’s concussion protocol.

9. I think Jarrad needs to play on Sunday for the Lions to be effective on defense. As the middle linebacker, Davis runs the defense on the field. If Davis remains out with a brain injury, the Lions have to move Tahir Whitehead to middle linebacker. And that means the defense becomes weaker at two positions, not just one. Let’s hope Davis can come back to the field sooner rather than later, but with injuries to the brain you just never know.

10. I think the more Miles Killebrew plays, the better. You never want to see your starters go down with injuries, but when Tavon Wilson went out with a shoulder injury the defense didn’t miss a beat. I like the idea of Killebrew getting more snaps at safety, and I think he can be a stud next to Glover Quin in the defensive secondary.

I think we still don’t know what Falcons team is going to show up in Detroit on Sunday. Is it going to be the team that almost laid an egg against the Bears on the road in Week 1? Or is it going to be the team that rocked the Packers at home in primetime. For my money, I think they’re somewhere in between. I guess we’ll find out for sure on Sunday.