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NFL Czar: Time for the Lions to roar

Justin Vanderzwan | Interrobang | Sports | October 17th, 2011

In what has been a crazy and unpredictable NFL season so far, the Detroit Lions have been by far the biggest surprise. The offence, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, has been remarkable. The defence, on the other hand, hasn't been all that great, but it is improving week by week.

Despite all this, the Lions are still just a few losses from being right back where they were in previous years (the bottom of the NFC North), and they face an important week seven showdown against the inconsistent Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons come in with their season basically on the line. They have alternated wins and losses pretty much every week, and they haven't been able score many points. I realize we aren't even at the halfway point of the season yet, but the Falcons may need to win this game to stay in the NFC playoff hunt.

Key Matchups
1. Brent Grimes vs. Calvin Johnson: Good luck, Mr. Grimes. The man they call Megatron (Johnson) has been on an absolute tear this season, and it seems no one can cover him. Grimes has been the best cornerback for Atlanta the past two years, but he will certainly have his hands full in this one.

2. Falcons' offensive line vs. Lions' defensive line: The Falcons have been among the best in the league at protecting the quarterback, but they haven't faced anything like this. Led by pro bowler Ndamukong Suh and rookie Nick Fairley, the Lions can rush the passer and stop the run as well as anyone. This battle will likely determine the outcome of the game.

3. Matt Ryan vs. Inconsistency: The most inconsistent player on the Falcons has been Ryan. The former first-round pick has struggled to get the ball downfield, and he needs to do that to be successful. If he can start throwing the ball deep and stretch out the Lions' defence, he could have a huge game.

The Rundown
The Falcons, as I said, are tough to call. They generally struggle on the road, but I think they can pull off an upset here. The key will be the play of Ryan, and if they can get anything going on the ground with running back Michael Turner. I'll take the Falcons in a close one, 31- 27.

For next week, I will take a look at the Sunday night affair, which will have huge implications in the NFC East.
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