Life was good for the Detroit Lions, in the company of the reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers at an undefeated 5-0. They had finally put behind them their winless 2008 season and two-win 2009 season and had turned a new leaf under the lead of quarterback Matt Stafford.
The Lions learned the hard way over the last week that your luck can change quickly, as they lost their first game and two running backs over the course of just a few days. In a 25-19 loss to San Francisco 49ers this past Sunday, sophomore running back Jahvid Best suffered a concussion and could miss the remainder of the season.
This is the third concussion of his career, as he also had one this preseason and as a college player at California. The Lions are denying reports that Best has been advised to sit out the remainder of the season after the second head injury in two months.
Things got worse Tuesday when a deadline-day trade on Tuesday sent running back Jerome Harrison to the Philadelphia Eagles for veteran back Ronnie Brown. Harrison underwent a high-level physical, one that he would most likely not have had without the trade, which revealed a brain tumor.
It is being reported that the prognosis is good and that Harrison will take the rest of the season to recover after being put on reserve for a non-football related injury. Some have said that the trade saved his life because it could have gone undiscovered should he have not had the physical.
Looking to right the track with a win against the Atlanta Falcons (3-3) at home, the Lions will hand the ball to veteran Maurice Morris who will see the bulk of the carries filling in for Best. Second-year running back Keiland Williams will see some play as well.
The prolific Detroit Lions passing attack will get a chance to spread its wings Sunday against a porous Falcons secondary, as it should be the focus of their offense. With the lack of a viable run game from the team, I would not be surprised to see double coverage on Calvin Johnson for large portions of the game, as he may be too much from Brent Grimes to handle.
After seeing the Lions surrender over two hundred yards to Frank Gore and the 49ers run game Sunday, expect to see Michael Turner pound the rock successfully all day long. The Falcons should be able to establish the run game early and use that to open up the pass game for Matt Ryan.
Ryan could see issues though as the Lions’ secondary has been one of the best in the league this season behind Chris Houston’s three interceptions. If they try and force anything, Detroit will be able to capitalize on those mistakes.
This should be a hard-fought battle between two pretty opposite teams. The Lions will be focusing on the pass game, the Falcons on the run. The Lions have been able to stop the pass but have struggled with the run. The Falcons will go to Turner because of that Lion’s defense and should see their ground game in the forefront.
I believe that the better team will prevail with a win, that team being the Detroit Lions. They are at Ford Field and will have the crowd behind them. They have learned what it takes to win a big game like this, and should be able to move the ball on the Falcons. In this faceoff between two up-and-coming young quarterbacks, I think that Matt Stafford brings the Lions a victory.
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