Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions will be looking for a historic moment for them as they take to the field across the seas in London, England. The home of football Wembley gets ready to host yet another NFL International series fixture, with this game being the second out of three this season alone. The historic Wembley turf will prepare for the hugely anticipated clash of the titans between Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson alongside Golden Tate and Atlanta’s all time receiving touchdown holder Roddy White and one of the best wide receivers in the league Julio Jones.
But of course the fixture offers much more than the receiving battle, we will see who comes off on top between Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan. Both very talented quarterbacks and both very different. Ryan being more of a pocket passer whereas Stafford is a mobile quarterback whose best throws sometimes actually come on the run with his huge arm strength. But something the Atlanta Falcons will fear very much is coming along with the Lions, and it is their recently developed and surprisingly ferocious defense. Since being drafted in 2010 Ndamukong Suh has registered; 152 total tackles, 54 assisted tackles, 31 sacks, two forced fumbles and 13 passes defended. While he hasn’t so far been able to live up to his first season in the NFL, Suh has seemingly matured ever so slightly this season and is off to a great start already. But it isn’t Suh that has been the main standout so far this season for the Detroit Lions and it isn’t just him that the Falcons should be planning long and hard to prevent those players making plays on defense. So far this season in just 7 weeks they have impressively put up 8 interceptions, 21 sacks and 5 forced fumbles.
But there is still some hope for the Falcons, while the Detroit Lions record is a solid 5-2 their two defeats have come at the hands of the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills respectively. Neither of these sides are playing great this season and that just goes to show that the Lions are by no means unbeatable. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback may on paper being turning the ball over a very high amount, but if you think about it fairly a large majority of the 7 interceptions have come late in games where his side are trailing by two scores and he is hurling the ball in hope of making a play. This is still a man who has over 2,000 yards on the season so far and 13 touchdowns to match. The Falcons still have attacking options such as Julio Jones, Roddy White, Devin Hester, and Harry Douglas is expected to come back from injury for this fixture at Wembley. What the Falcons quarterback does not have is a strong offensive line which holds firm against serious pressure, pressure it will come under from the Detroit defense. Several days ago the Atlanta Falcons announced that rookie center James Stone who was an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee, will start for the side this week after the injury of Peter Konz which ruled him out for the season.
The 2-5 Atlanta Falcons need to show some guts and passion and fast if they are to have any chance of turning this quickly collapsing season around, especially if Mike Smith wants to keep his job. Whatever fans think of Smith this is his time to show some guts of his own and turn the Falcons into a winning team, who in the last 14 months they are 6-17, the form of a genuinely poor side. The Lions however are 5-2 and marching towards a playoff place in a highly competitive division. They are joint top of the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers but their victory over the Packers earlier in the season, gives them top spot through a tiebreaker. Next week both sides will be on a bye, the Falcons next game is away at the Buccaneers whereas the Lions are at home against the Miami Dolphins.
Two teams of very contrasting fortunes take to the field this Sunday in an eagerly anticipated early kick off, at the home of football for yet another NFL International series game.