Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers among players Lions must concern themselves with

Posted Dec 20, 2012

Aside from the regular headliners, Tim Twentyman offers five other players the Detroit Lions must concern themselves with if they are to win Saturday night.

The Detroit Lions don't have time to feel sorry for themselves after last week's 38-10 loss in Arizona. They gift-wrapped 28 points to the lowly Cardinals in what was probably the most disappointing loss of head coach Jim Schwartz's tenure.

But that loss is in the rearview mirror and it's on to the next week with the Atlanta Falcons (12-2) coming to Ford Field on national television Saturday night. Coming with them is probably the best collection of talent the Lions have faced on both sides of the ball all season.

The Falcons can clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a win, and make no mistake about it, that's exactly what quarterback Matt Ryan expects to do.

"I think what's still in front of us in terms of the playoff picture and those kind of things I think is all the motivation we need," Ryan said in a conference call this week.

"It's not something I worry about. I know (the Lions are) going to play hard, that's their MO, that's what they do. We know going into it you can toss records out. It's going to be a tough, physical football game and a 60-minute game and we've got to prepare ourselves with that mindset."

We all know the big names the Falcons employ alongside Ryan: WR Roddy White, WR Julio Jones, TE Tony Gonzalez, DE John Abraham and CB Asante Samuel.

But here are five players that might not get as many headlines that the Lions still need to concern themselves with:

RB Michael Turner: Turner got off to a slow start this season but aims for a sixth game in a row Saturday with a touchdown. He has 342 rushing yards (171 per game) and two touchdowns in his last two meetings with the Lions.

LB Stephen Nicholas: Versatile linebacker, who leads the team with 86 tackles. He also has two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. The Falcons are allowing just 18.5 points per game, fourth fewest in the league.

S Thomas DeCoud: Falcons safeties account for 10 of the team's 18 interceptions, and DeCoud has six of them. He's second among all safties in the league with six interceptions (Stevie Brown, NYG, 7).

RB Jacquizz Rodgers: Rodgers is the team's fourth-leading receiver with 44 catches and 341 yards out of the backfield and in the slot. He's also one of the best kickoff-return men in the league, averaging 26.9 yards per return with a long of 77 yards.

S William Moore: DeCoud and Moore form one of the best safety duos that not a lot of people outside of Georgia have heard of. Moore has four interceptions to go along with 75 tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack.