The Lions faced one of the worst passing teams in the NFL last week in the Cardinals, led by rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley. Arizona's offense muddled their way to only 104 passing yards and only one completion of more than 14 yards.
They also won the game, 38-10, thanks to four Lions turnovers which they turned into 28 points, but none of those were passing scores. In fact, the Cardinals haven’t thrown a touchdown in over a month.
Fast forward one week and it's a whole different story.
This Saturday, the Lions defense will face one of the top passing teams in the league in the Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan.
Ryan has at his disposal a trio of receiving threats that would make any quarterback jealous. It's a group that's probably keeping Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham up at night.
If tight end Tony Gonzalez (880 yards) can record 120 more yards over the Falcons' final two games (at Detroit and vs. Tampa Bay), he and receivers Roddy White (1,156) and Julio Jones (1,071) will become just the sixth trio in NFL history to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
“I’m lucky to have them, that’s for sure,” Ryan said in a conference call Tuesday. “I have a lot of respect for all three of those guys, the way that they work, the way they compete week-in and week-out, how consistent all three of them have been the entire year.
“It’s fun to be a part of that. The thing I love about all three of them is that all three of them would tell you that they’re not worried about statistics or anything like that, they’re just worried about winning games and that’s what is probably the most fun to be around.”
All three will certainly put a lot of pressure on a Lions secondary that’s now dealing with another injury with the recent loss of cornerback
Atlanta owns the league’s No. 5 passing offense – 287.5 yards per game – and are also seventh in points scored per game (26.5) and total yards (377.4). It’s the best passing team the Lions defense will face all season.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that deserve opportunities to touch the football on our offense and (Jones, White and Gonzalez) have done a really good job for us,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith.
“It gives our offensive coordinator and our quarterback a lot of options when we’re putting our game plan together during the week.”
The Falcons are coming off a 34-0 trouncing of the Super Bowl Champion Giants last week in which Ryan registered the second-best quarterback rating of his career, 142.6.
Ryan already is having the best season of his career (97.5 quarterback rating) and it’s no surprise with all the weapons he has at his disposal.
Don’t feel too bad, though, Stafford does have the best receiver on the planet in
The Lions will have their work cut out dealing with all three Falcons weapons Saturday night.