We've wondered about the Falcons all year. Were the close wins week after week a sign of a lucky team or one that had a knack for just doing enough? We wanted to see an emphatic win over one of the league's upper-echelon teams.
And then came last week's 34-0 trouncing of the Giants, the defending Super Bowl champs who beat the Falcons 24-2 in the playoffs last season. It was a dominant performance, and one that legitimized Atlanta's regular season.
But for the Falcons to really get respect (they're currently the fifth choice to win the Super Bowl at +650, behind New England, San Francisco and Denver, all +450, and Houston, +500), they'll have to make a run in the playoffs. A win tonight would be significant, because it would clinch the NFC's top seed. Atlanta could also win next week and be assured of the No. 1 seed for the second time in three years.
The only thing left for Detroit is to see if Calvin Johnson can break Jerry Rice's record of 1,848 receiving yards in a season. Johnson has 1,667 through 14 games, putting him on pace for 1,905. He needs to average 91 yards per game to break the mark. It's been an otherwise forgettable season for the Lions.
According to ESPN PickCenter, the public loves the Falcons in this game, picking them at a 67.5 percent rate. The public is astute; it knows that the game means more to the Falcons.
Let's get analysis on the line from Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hotel and a pick from Sal Selvaggio of MadduxSports.com.
Spread: Opened at Falcons -3, now Falcons -3.5
Total: Opened at 51; still 51