The Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions will open their preseason slates Friday at Ford Field in Detroit.
The Falcons, who went 7-10 in 2021 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2017, will enter Year 2 of the Arthur Smith era. Atlanta moved on from franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, who is now in Indianapolis, and is likely to suit up Marcus Mariota as its starting quarterback.
The Lions were 3-13-1 in their first season under Dan Campbell and will enter Year 2 of Jared Goff leading the offense at quarterback. Goff has reportedly built a rapport with newly-signed wide receiver D.J Chark, who signed with the Lions after four seasons in Jacksonville.
Falcons vs Lions Odds
The spread varies from pick ’em to 1.5 on our NFL odds, which seems fair since these were two non-playoff teams who haven’t yet kicked off their preseason slates yet. We don’t know if the Lions or Falcons intend to hold out any impact players in their preseason opener.
Falcons vs Lions Implied Score
Falcons 18, Lions 17.5
No sportsbook is going to create a 0.5-point spread, and given the general sloppiness with which preseason games are played, it makes sense that the books would expect a close, low-scoring game.
Falcons vs Lions Pick of the Day
Read more on this Falcons vs Lions bet below.
Falcons vs Lions Matchup
The Lions weren’t especially talented in 2021, but they were one of the scrappiest teams in the NFL under Campbell. Their tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers nearly kept Pittsburgh out of the postseason, and Detroit lost five games by four points or fewer. The Lions spent the offseason trying to build up a defense that ranked 31st in points allowed, notably selecting Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick in the draft.
The Falcons, meanwhile, had an expected win-loss record of 5-12, so they played better than their record indicated. Atlanta parted ways with Ryan, its all-time leader in just about every passing category, but also lost wide receiver Calvin Ridley to a season-long suspension for betting on football games.
They might have a hard time offensively unless Mariota and first-round draft pick Drake London develop instant chemistry and rusher/receiver Cordarrelle Patterson can take over. Plus, the Atlanta defense ranked 29th in the NFL in points allowed.
Falcons vs Lions Prediction
Lions 23, Falcons 12
Detroit is further along in terms of continuity, and that typically leads to preseason success. Goff has reportedly been flourishing through training camp, developing a strong rapport with Chark, which bodes well for the Detroit offense given the likelihood each will play about a quarter in the preseason opener.
Campbell had the Lions playing hard last season, and he seems like the type of coach that would emphasize the first preseason game to his players.
Look for rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder to play the bulk of the game for Atlanta, especially after Mariota inevitably exits in the first half. The 2022 third-round draft pick from Cincinnati, who the Falcons undoubtedly hope is their quarterback of the future, has reportedly had accuracy issues in camp, which might adversely affect his ability to move the ball.
All that should lead to a relatively comfortable Detroit win, at least by preseason standards.
Falcons vs Lions Best Bets
Lions Moneyline (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
As stated above, we like the Lions to take their preseason opener given some of the preseason trends and the fact the Falcons appear poised for a regression. The odds are pretty standard at -110 across sportsbooks for a Detroit win.
Back the home team as your NFL pick of the day.
Over 34.5 Total Points (-110) at BetMGM Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
We’re nervous about wagering for a certain number of points in a preseason game, given the fact the Falcons have had an exceptionally mediocre red-zone offense for years and red-zone offenses typically struggle in the preseason.
But this is the lowest total number we’ve seen and think these teams should be able to surpass it, given the defensive deficiencies on both sides and the inevitable miscues from inexperienced players on that side of ball that usually crop up in the second half.