Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons
NFL.com video preview
Kickoff: 1 p.m. EDT
Kickoff: 1 p.m. EDT
Stadium: Georgia Dome
(The Falcons are selling $10 tickets in an effort to sell out. You watching, Mr.Ford?)
Television: WJBK-TV FOX Ch.2
Play-By-Play: Matt Vasgersian
Color: J.C. Pearson
(What is this, the FOX Sports Z-team? Oh yeah, it's Lions-Falcons, it is the Z-team.)
Lions Radio Network Flagship: 97.1 FM The Ticket (WXYT-FM)
Play-By-Play: Dan Miller
Color: Jim Brandstatter
Sidelines: Tony Ortiz
2008 Records: Lions, 0-0; Falcons, 0-0
2007 Records: Lions, 7-9; Falcons, 4-12
With that out of the way, let's move on to the gist of this post...
"The 5 things I'm watching, dammit!"
(Why only 5? I didn't feel like coming up with 6.)
Will the running game be effective?
Or be at least effective enough to keep Atlanta from playing pass on every down? We've heard Rod Marinelli claim the the Lions were going to run, run and run, then run some more. Well, it's time to back up all the pounding the rock bluster with 25-30 attempts shared between Kevin Smith and Rudi Johnson. I like Smith, but not the offensive line. We'll see how one affects the other.
Will this be the true coming out party for Calvin Johnson?
It'll be a year later than originally thought, but we can safely assume it will be. CJ is a year older, no longer shackled with a serious nagging injury and kicked proverbial ass in his limited playing time during the exhibition season. He also has a former Pro Bowl receiver in Roy Williams opposite him, playing for a big money free agent contract, to take some of the pressure off of him. All the signs point to Megatron blowing up. Calvin Johnson's NFL coming out party begins Sunday.
How badly will the special teams suck?
One Hell of a lot. If there has been one constant during Marinelli's tenure, it's been the awful special teams, especially in coverage. Again, we just have the 4 exhibitions to go by, but it appears there's been little, if any, improvement in the Lions' kick coverage. I'll go on record right now. The Lions WILL lose a couple of games thanks to lousy special teams play. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I will be. "FIRE KWAN!"
Has Rod Marinelli matured as a head coach?
In his first two seasons as Detroit's head man, Marinelli showed a disturbing tendency to mismanage the clock, blow timeouts, make questionable challenges and let Mike Martz walk all over him in regard to play calling. In other words, his game management blew goats. Marinelli ran a game like a position coach who had never been in charge of a team.
Martz is gone, and Marinelli seems to be more assured on the sidelines. Quite possibly because the loony offensive coordinator is now on the left coast.
The Lions desperately need Marinelli to come though, and come through big. This is finally his team, and has his fingerprints all over the roster. It's time Marinelli's actions on the field lived up to all his tough talk about accountability. Don't blow any more time outs or challenges, dammit!
Will the Lions' defense be able to rattle Matt Ryan?
The Falcons are officially in rebuilding mode, and starting a rookie QB. A rookie QB who's said he learned plenty from...get this...Joey Harrington (That should work in the Lions' favor, ya think?), before Mr. Blue Skies was unceremoniously cut. This should be like throwing red meat to the Lions' defense. I'd expect
Actually, I shouldn't say "be able to," as the Lions definitely should rattle Ryan to no end. If it's even in question, the Lions are in deep shit. There should be NO WAY IN HELL the Lions lose to a bad team run by a rookie QB. Ryan having a decent day is my worst fear, as it would not bode well for the rest of the season. Not bode well at all...
As for what I'm doing Sunday at 1 PM, I plan on some sort of live blog, form yet to be determined. Stop by and see my mental meltdown in person...