Saturday, December 22, 2012

NFL Predictions 2012 Week 16: Falcons vs Lions

Atlanta Falcons vs Detroit Lions: ATL -3.5 (Pinnacle)

Markets

This game has had some significant line movement since it was put up on the board.  Last week in the look-ahead line, Vegas pegged the Falcons as -1 point favorites.  After Week 15 action, that was moved up to -3.

That didn't stop sharp money from coming in and moving it off the key number of 3 though.  It takes a lot for a line to come off the 3, so there's no question the Falcons were undervalued.  Right now, it all depends on where you shop. Some books have them as high as -4.5, but you can also find some -3.5's at 'even' money.

Mismatches

The Lions should have Delmas in the line up which is a monumental piece in a secondary that is decimated.  Having said that, given the injuries he might be asked to do a lot more in pass coverage than he typically would. The Falcons have a huge edge in the passing game, so don't be surprised if they go for the jugular early. When you have the kind of weapons the Falcons have, that's not a good situation to be in.  Up front, the Lions have lost Nick Fairley, too.  At this time of year, it's a battle of attrition.

On the flip side, Pettigrew is likely out which puts most of the focus on Calvin Johnson.  The Lions have also admitted they will be doing everything they can to get him the ball in order to break Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards.  Last week I was wrong when I thought Adrian Peterson couldn't defeat the Rams all by himself, but I'm willing to bet that Calvin Johnson won't be doing the same to the Falcons tonight.  The primary advantage Detroit have would be in the running game, but that's not an element that this offense is built on.

Bottom Line

Will Detroit show up in prime-time and ruin the party?  This is the NFL so anything is possible, but they've dropped 7 straight and sit at 2-4 against the spread at home. Given their injuries in the passing game on both sides of the ball and the arsenal they have to contend with, I don't see how they'll be able to keep pace for a full 60 minutes. 

I'm not a fan of taking bad numbers, but sometimes we over-think the point spread.  Falcons should win this game, and I'd be surprised if it came down to a field goal.

NFL Pick: ATL -3.5.