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Lions vs. Falcons: Defense Needs to Step Up to Overcome Potent Offense

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2012

After being embarrassed by the Arizona Cardinals, having to welcome the Atlanta Falcons to Ford Field seems wrong.

This is a huge uphill climb for a team which looks like it's quit, especially last week.

The Detroit Lions don't match up well with the Falcons right now, and there are three places the Lions need to focus on to have even a chance to win this game.

 

Secondary Must Step Up

Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Matt Ryan.

A secondary which has struggled all season in part because of injury, in part because of a lack of talent, now has to man up and take on one of the most explosive passing offenses in the NFL today.

They may have safety Louis Delmas back, but they won't have Jacob Lacey at cornerback and will settle for rookie Jonte Green paired up with Chris Houston.

I like Green, but this is going to be too much to ask from him, which means a lot of safety help over the top.

Across the board, though, the secondary needs to play better than it has all season.

 

Front Seven Must Get Penetration

I've harped on this several times this week, but it bears repeating: one sack?

That can't happen, because if the secondary is going to have an ice-cube's chance in the hot place of stopping the terrible trio, they will need pressure from Ndamukong Suh and Co.

Of course, the defensive front is suffering from injury issues as well, having recently lost Nick Fairley and Corey Williams.

That just puts more of an onus on the remaining guys, especially Suh.

For all the flak he gets, Suh has a chance to step up and show maturity in leading this defense. It would be a big step in starting to put his reputation (especially in regard to maturity) to bed.

No matter who gets after Ryan, it has to happen and on a regular basis—otherwise, he will carve up this defense.

 

Someone Please Help Calvin Johnson

Can someone please give Johnson a hand?

I know there aren't many receivers left on the roster, so I extend this invitation to tight ends like Tony Scheffler and the running backs.

The Lions want to get Johnson Jerry Rice's record for most receiving yards in a season, but at the same point they need to start learning how to take advantage of all the attention he gets and in doing so, pull some of that attention away from him.

Johnson is having a tremendous season and will carry this offense as much as he can.

In this game, he's going to need help.

Someone here needs to step up.

Consider it a way to keep your job next year.

Because after this year, almost everyone could be on the chopping block.

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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.

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