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Lions, Falcons in a battle of undefeated teams
The Atlanta Falcons appeared to make major strides from the season-opener to their second game against the Green Bay Packers.
They will need another leap on the road when they face the upstart Detroit Lions, who are also off to a 2-0 start with impressive wins over the Seahawks and Giants.
The Lions, who may have finally balanced their offense, are playing well and have flashed some stingy defense.
"They've got some explosive guys at running back, wide receiver and tight end," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "On the defensive side with their pass rushers. It's going to be a heck of a matchup."
The Lions have held their first two opponents to a total of 107 yards rushing.
Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined to rushed 20 times for 53 yards against the Bears. Against the Packers, they combined to rush 25 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Freeman was perturbed that the Packers thought they could play their nickel and dime defenses and still shut down the Falcons' rushing attack. He ran with determination, speed and power against the Packers.
"I thought it was an aggressive showing," Quinn said. "Especially Freeman had some really aggressive runs and made yards after contact and made guys miss. That's vintage Freeman."
Coleman had a nice 35-yard run against the Packers and will be looking to break loose against the Lions, who could be without their fine rookie middle linebacker Jarrad Davis.
"You saw Tevin's speed when he got out to the outside," Quinn said. "I was pleased with that part of our game."
The Falcons' new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, has the offense in gear in his second game at the controls.
"It started way back to when we first got here and were making sure that it's clear what style and attitude we want to play with," Quinn said. "So, we were kind of indoctrinating Sarkisian into that. I thought he particularly did an excellent job of making this connection with Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub."
Sarkisian is getting use to deploying all of his weapons.
"We went through the whole process of looking at the things we did well and the things we'd like to try to improve upon," Quinn said. "He added some wrinkles that were fresh eyes for us. As we got into training camp and now into the season, it's all about how we best feature the guys in their roles. How do we get them plays in certain formations. That part is becoming stronger."
Defensively, the Falcons will have to chase around Stafford without All-Pro edge rusher Vic Beasley, who will miss the game because of a hamstring strain. Rookie Takkarist McKinley is set to get more action along with Brooks Reed and Derrick Shelby.
The Falcons also will be without defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw.
"When the injuries took place with Upshaw and Beasley, it left us shorthanded," Quinn said. "When another guy goes down, it's your turn to pick it up and go. The will have to really battle."
The back end of the Lions defense is in good hands with free safety Glover Quin and cornerback Darius Slay.
Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is the only player in NFL with more interceptions than Quin since 2013 with 18. Quin has 17 interceptions since 2013 and led the league with seven in 2014.
"Defensively, they are very good tacklers especially in the secondary," Quinn said.
Worrilow, a former undrafted player from Delaware, played with the Falcons from 2013 to 2015.
"He could certainly tell them a lot," Quinn said. "He's a half coach anyway. Usually, players have to go play. I've never been one to get too concerned about the crossing of players. If you memorized all of our formations and plays you'd be dizzy by the time the plays started because there is quite a few."
The Falcons' special teams unit will be on alert also.
Lions rookie Jamal Agnew had an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Giants.
SERIES HISTORY: 37th regular season meeting. Lions lead series, 24-12. The Falcons are 3-1 against the Lions with Matt Ryan at the controls. On Sept. 7, 2008, Ryan made his first NFL start against the Lions and guided the Falcons to a 34-31 victory.