Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions: Avoiding a Second Big Cat Trap

Christopher BehelerCorrespondent IIIDecember 19, 2012

DETROIT - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons calls the play at the line of scrimmage during the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Falcons defeated the Lions 23-16.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have seen this before. Coming off a huge win at home, the Falcons travel to face an underachieving team with a cat on their helmet. Two weeks ago, this scenario netted the Falcons their worst game of the year as they were mauled by the Carolina Panthers.

On Saturday, the Falcons will travel to Detroit to face the Detroit Lions. After destroying the New York Giants, one might expect a less-than-focused Falcons team facing the 4-10 Lions. On the contrary, the Falcons know what is at stake.


More Than Pride On The Line

Heading into Detroit, the Falcons are aware there are major playoff implications. If the Falcons win Saturday night, the Falcons clinch home-field throughout the playoffs. While that does not equate to a must-win scenario, it should be more than enough to keep the Falcons motivated.


Smith and Short Week Help Focus

Unlike the 10-day mini-bye prior to the Panthers debacle, the Falcons will play the Lions on a short week. This limits the time that Falcons players have to bask in the afterglow of last Sunday's big win. In fact, their normal day off (Tuesday) was replaced by a rather spirited practice.

Coach Mike Smith is determined to keep the players focused for Saturday's game. On Tuesday afternoon, Dave Archer reported on Atlanta's 790 The Zone that Smith had little patience for lollygagging on his practice field. Archer said that few players seemed unfocused until Smith "got on their butts." Archer said that, from then on, it was one of the better practices he had seen this year.


Harsh Words for Harsh Game

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White was calling Ndamukong Suh dirty before calling Ndamukong Suh dirty was cool. When the Falcons and Lions met in October of 2011, White made headlines for calling Suh out for his on-field antics. Since this was prior to Suh's stomping and groin kicks, White was the one catching media backlash.

But do not think that has been forgotten. The Falcons offense will be keenly aware of what the Lions' front four are capable of before and after the whistle. While staying healthy for the playoffs should be a priority, the Falcons want to keep the bitter taste of losing out of their mouths.

Expect the Falcons to be focused when they take the field Saturday. After being bitten by one cat recently, the Falcons will be the aggressor this time around.