National Football League
Lions-Falcons Preview
National Football League

Lions-Falcons Preview

Published Oct. 22, 2014 4:01 p.m. ET

Points haven't been easy to come by for the Detroit Lions, but they continue to wreak havoc on the defensive end.

The slumping Atlanta Falcons are having issues on both sides of the ball.

Looking to continue its defensive prowess overseas, Detroit tries to hand the Falcons a fifth consecutive defeat as these NFC foes square off in London on Sunday.

"We're not afraid to go anywhere, anyplace and go out there and play and execute what we need to get done," Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "It comes from our coach. The attitude that he brings with us, understanding that it doesn't make a difference whether we're in London, or at home, or have to go to Atlanta."


The Lions' defense clearly isn't lacking for confidence, and it has the numbers to back it up. Detroit (5-2) is surrendering an NFL-low 290.3 yards per game and ranks second in points allowed with 15.0.

The defense will be without tackle C.J. Mosley, who was sent home from London on Saturday and suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Detroit says in a release that Mosley engaged in detrimental conduct and is suspended for two weeks. The 31-year-old Mosley has played in all seven games for the Lions, with 2 1/2 sacks.

The defense came up big again last Sunday in a 24-23 win over New Orleans. Safety Glover Quin had a late interception, and Matthew Stafford went on to throw a 5-yard touchdown moments later as Detroit erased a 13-point deficit in the final 3:38.

"I think you learn a little bit about your team as you go, I really do," coach Jim Caldwell told the Lions' official website. "This is the first one that we've had like this one, you know, to have really come from behind and get it done with some big plays.

"You had a sense of it and you can see, when you're dealing with men that have character and have talent you'll get performances like that."

Stafford finished 27 of 40 for 299 yards with two TDs and two interceptions, finding Golden Tate 10 times for 154 yards and a score. While Tate stepped up with Calvin Johnson injured, the offense hasn't been the same. The Lions beat the New York Giants 35-14 in their season opener but have since averaged 17.5 points over their last six games.

Johnson has missed the last two after aggravating his ankle in Week 5. The All-Pro wideout, who's been limited for nearly a month, traveled with the team but was limited in Wednesday's practice and isn't certain to suit up.

"I'm getting better and better on a daily basis, so we're just going to keep on that track," Johnson said. "We're going in the right direction."

Reggie Bush was also limited with an ankle injury Wednesday, but he expects to play. The Lions are hoping to get their ground game going after averaging 82.4 rushing yards, the NFL's second-worst mark.

"It's really close," fellow back Joique Bell said. "If you look at it on film, it's just one glitch that keeps us from having that explosive run, which is going to lead to more. We're right there, we just need to get over that hump."

Bell and Bush could break out against the Falcons (2-5), who have allowed an average of 137.7 yards and a league-worst 13 TDs on the ground. Atlanta, which has lost six straight and 11 of 12 away from the Georgia Dome, also has plenty to clean up offensively after averaging 17.0 points during a four-game losing streak

The Falcons were held to a season-low 254 yards of offense in last Sunday's 29-7 rout at Baltimore.

"We have to play more consistent on offense," said receiver Roddy White, who scored with 7:12 to go. "We're not playing efficient football and it's costing us right now."

Matt Ryan threw for 228 yards with a TD, just his third in the last three games. He's been sacked nine times in the last two behind Atlanta's injury-riddled offensive line.

The Falcons lost another key piece in center Peter Konz, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. He was placed on injured reserve Monday, joining fellow linemen Joe Hawley, Lamar Holmes and Sam Baker.

"There are no excuses," coach Mike Smith said. "You can talk about losing players, but everybody loses players. It's got to be the `next man up' mentality. The next guy up has to step in and do the job. We have to step up."

Despite its recent woes, Atlanta has just one fewer win than South Division-leading Carolina.

"We have nine games left and I know every man in that room and every coach in that room will work ... this week to get prepared to play the Detroit Lions," Smith said.

The Falcons won 31-18 at Detroit on Dec. 22, 2012, their third consecutive victory in the series. Ryan threw four TD passes while Johnson had 11 catches for 225 yards.


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