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O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: Boyle likely next man up with Goff on Reserve/COVID-19

A former Detroit Lions coach once made a statement about what counts most on gameday.

"It's how you play on the day you play," the coach said.

No analytics. No excuses. No allowances for playing at home or on the road.

Bottom line: Performance matters.

Tim Boyle, who has prepared all week to make his second start at quarterback for the Detroit Lions against the Atlanta Falcons today, agrees with that simple formula.

"One hundred percent," Boyle said. "That's the beautiful part of pro football. It doesn't always match up on gameday."

Boyle is likely starting in place of Jared Goff, who is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Last week's win over the Cardinals was an example of how the odds and matchups don't always determine the outcome.

The Cardinals were heavily favored to beat the Lions. On gameday, the way the Lions played made them the better team by far, and Goff was the better quarterback by far that day than Cardinals star Kyler Murray.

Today's quarterback matchup heavily favors the Falcons' Matt Ryan. In 14 seasons Ryan has 219 regular season starts, 365 TD passes and 59,107 yards passing. Boyle has one previous start – in a 13-10 loss to the Browns Week 11 -- 77 yards passing and no TDs.

It may seem like a stretch, but Boyle sees a carryover that benefits him from the 48 snaps he played in his start against the Browns.

"Every snap's in my head," he said. "You build on the good and learn from the bad. I'll have those things at the forefront of my mind.

"I think whoever plays quarterback is expected to go in there and play well and lead the team to a win. It's up to us to make it happen and go get the win."

'Tis the day?

Random Thoughts:

Battle alert: Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has told his players to gear up for a more physical test from the Falcons than the Lions got from the Cardinals. New head coach Arthur Smith has brought the toughness he had as offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.

"Last week was more run and gun -- let's get after the quarterback and go," Glenn said. "This week we're going to have to grind it out because of the run game. Make sure you buckle your chin strap."

Campbell's patience: He's learning to exercise it since taking over calling plays on offense.

"You've got to be careful," he said. "There's a right time for every play. If you call it at the wrong time, you just waste it. At the same time, if you hold it too long and end up in a spot where it does you no good if you did call it, you'll regret it.

"When you're able to convert on third down, it really opens up all the things you can do in your playbook."

Just for kicks: The Lions have to like rookie Riley Patterson's performance since taking over at the kicker: Seven-for-seven on field goals and eight-for-eight on extra points. The feeling is mutual. Patterson likes kicking for the Lions.

"I love playing with this team," Patterson said. "It's fun to be a part of a team that's trying to accomplish a goal. For me to be able to do my part – my little part in the team's effort – is pretty cool. It's fun to be part of something like that."

Player to watch: Falcons rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. What he's done so far this season is just the beginning of what he is expected to do. He has 58 catches for 87 yards, 14.7 per catch and one touchdown.

Lions-Falcons breakdown: Looking at the Falcons' stats makes me wonder how they got to 6-8. Their most telling stat: A league-low 16 sacks. The Lions can run the ball, and they should be able to pass it, even with a backup quarterback.

Pick: Lions 23, Falcons 20.

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