I should start by saying that by MNF, I really mean SNF.
Saturday Night Football, that is.
Saturday games are rare in the NFL, but with Christmas Eve falling on a Monday this year, the scheduling change was made and the Detroit Lions will battle with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday instead.
The game airs at 8:30p.m. on ESPN.
For Lions fans who will be in attendance or watching on TV this Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons may be a welcome guest.
At least they’ll get to see someone play good football.
Detroit hasn’t played a full game of solid football in ages, although at times has shown why they went 10-6 and made the playoffs just a year ago. Periods of good play have been outweighed by the periods of bad this year in Detroit, which has resulted in a 4-10 record.
Meanwhile, the Falcons come to Ford Field leading the NFC at 12-2. The NFC South already locked up, Atlanta needs just one more win to guarantee a first-round bye and home field advantage.
The Falcons have been criticized by many for playing down to their competition, but they have two more wins than any other NFC team, and it’s the wins that everyone seems to keep track of.
Wins do the talking in this league, and the Falcons have done exactly that. The Falcons haven’t performed in the playoffs, true, but their past endeavors are exactly that. One more win and the NFC Playoffs go through the Georgia Dome.
Need I say more?
Everything about this game favors Atlanta. The Falcons have a pass defense that has 18 INTs and allowed only 13 TDs that will aim to neutralize the pass-reliant Lions. The Falcons were dismantling the Giants 34-0 last week while the Lions were getting blown out by the lowly Cardinals.
The Falcons do everything well. The Lions do everything wrong.
But let me explain something that can give the glass-half-full person some hope for the Lions. It’s called the high-low theory and it favors Detroit.
The theory says that teams coming off a big win, like the one the Falcons got last week, are more susceptible to a letdown in the following game. A team that got embarrassed in the previous week, however, is poised for a bounce back performance.
According to this theory, the Lions are looking great!
The theory is a bit of a stretch, but there is evidence to support it.
Example: in week 14, the Falcons were dealt just their second loss of the season at the hands of the 5-9 Carolina Panthers. And I’ve already covered what Atlanta did the following week against the Giants.
In week 9, the Lions won by their widest margin of the season: a 31-14 win in Jacksonville. They followed that performance with one of their worst of the year: a 24-34 loss to Minnesota that the Lions never had control of.
Will the Lions’ horrifying loss in Arizona motivate them to play a full 60 minutes? Will the Falcons show symptoms of a hangover after their convincing win against New York?
Who knows. Call this theory what you will, but there’s some reason why the spread is just 3.5 points.
If all else fails, it’ll still be fun to watch Calvin Johnson chase history in the season’s final two games. He needs 182 more yards to break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record set in 1995.
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