While everybody appropriately pays attention to Calvin Johnson Saturday night, the Lions will need someone other than the NFL’s No. 1 receiver to be a threat if they hope to hang with the Falcons.
The Falcons (12-2) will likely double team Johnson to help contain him, and when that happens, the Lions’ other pass catchers need to exploit their single coverage.
They couldn’t do that last week in Arizona as eight players combined for just 14 receptions for 125 yards. That won’t be a winning recipe against the NFL’s seventh-best scoring offense (26.5 points per game).
The Lions (4-10) won’t have tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) again this week, so the onus will be on Kris Durham, Brian Robiskie and Tony Scheffler to give quarterback Matthew Stafford open targets.
Atlanta starting safety William Moore (hamstring) is inactive, so the Lions receivers have a little better matchup. Still, the Falcons defense has forced 18 interceptions, fourth in the league, and Stafford struggled last week against Arizona’s big-play defense, throwing three interceptions in an embarrassing 38-10 loss.
The Falcons’ offense is more than capable of taking a big lead early, and if the Lions have to pass to catch up, someone other than Johnson has to create big plays.