This Sunday the Falcons round out the holiday season facing off against the Detroit Lions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons are coming off of a loss to the 49ers that dealt a heavy blow to any playoff chances they had. While the Lions are coming off perhaps the biggest upset of the season, winning handedly over the Arizona Cardinals.
Jared Goff has been playing some of his best football in December, averaging over 240-yards per game with seven touchdowns to only two interceptions in three games. He has played a large part in the Lions picking up their first two wins of the season over the course of their last three games. However, the Falcons may have caught a break since Goff is unlikely to suit up for the Lions as he landed on the COVID-19/Reserve list earlier this week. Though nothing will be official until this weekend the Falcons are likely to see Tim Boyle under center on Sunday.
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers during Week 15.
Heading into Sunday Matt Ryan sits needs just two passing touchdowns to pass Eli Manning for ninth place in NFL history. He might get some help against this Lions defense with a target like Russell Gage finding his footing as the top wide receiver the last three weeks averaging 95 yards per game over that stretch and tallying a score. Recently named rookie Pro Bowler Kyle Pitts will also be of some help on that front. Though he only has one touchdown on the season he is in the midst of a historically good rookie season for a tight end. The first rookie Pro Bowler since Jeremy Shockey in 2002, and he is on pace to pass Shockey for the most rookie receiving yards all-time in the Super Bowl Era.
On the defensive side of the ball it's expected that they will have to be prepared for D'Andre Swift's return and a likely more run heavy offense than anticipated with Goff out. To add to that the Lions will likely have to deal with AJ Terrell, perhaps the biggest defensive Pro Bowl snub of the season, covering rookie wide out sensation Amon-Ra St. Brown.
With all of that to take in let's take a look at who the experts have picked to win on Sunday.
*Picks made as of Dec. 23
|Author | Outlet||Pick||2021 Record|
|Jarrett Bell | USA Today||Lions||11-3|
|Matt Bowen | ESPN||Falcons||8-6|
|Gregg Rosenthal | NFL.com||Lions||9-5|
|Gary Davenport | Bleacher Report||Lions||8-6|
|Brad Gagnon | Bleacher Report||Falcons||10-4|
|Vinnie Iyer | Sporting News||Falcons||10-4|
|Rob Ninkovich | ESPN||*No pick*||9-5|
|Jason La Confora | CBS Sports||Falcons||10-4|
|Pete Prisco | CBS Sports||Falcons||8-6|
|Lorenzo Reyes | USA Today||Lions||10-4|