FLOWERY BRANCH — A look at the teams on the Falcons’ schedule and how they have reconstructed their roster since the season’s end:
GAME THREE: DETROIT LIONS
Falcons at Lions, at 1 p.m. Sept. 24
No longer with the Lions: Tackle Riley Reiff, guard Larry Warford, wide receiver Anquan Boldin and linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Key free agent signings: Right tackle Ricky Wagner; guard T.J. Lang; defensive tackle Akeem Spence; defensive end Cornelius Washington; cornerback D.J. Hayden; linebacker Paul Worrilow; tight end Darren Fell; linebacker Nick Bellore and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.
The 2017 Draftees:
Weaknesses: The Lions are trying to improve their speed on defense and in the linebacking corps. They believe they have a winner in first-round pick Jarrad Davis. He made 158 tackles in his two seasons as a starter and missed four games last year with a high ankle sprain. The Lions finished last in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average last season for total defense as well as rushing and passing defense.
Strengths: The Lions made it a priority to improve the offensive line by signing Wagner, Lang and Fells, a fine blocking tight end. They want to help quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had to guide them to eight comeback victories last season. A better run game and upgraded protection for Stafford, who's been sacked 126 times over the past three seasons, is vital to the Lions being able to make a playoff push out of the NFC North.
Comment: The Lions went 9-7 last season, but were 6-2 at Ford Field. They looked like a playoff-bound team before a late-season collapse with three straight losses to the New York Giants, Dallas and Green Bay.
Falcons at Miami Dolphins at 7 p.m. Aug. 10
Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. Aug. 20
Arizona Cardinals at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 26
Jacksonville Jaguars at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 31
Sept. 10 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., Fox
Sept. 17 Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. NBC
Sept. 24 at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. Fox
Oct. 1 Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 8 BYE
Oct. 15 Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 22 at New England Patriots, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Oct. 29 at New York Jets, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 5 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 12 Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Nov. 20 at Seattle Seahawks (Mon) 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Nov. 26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 3 Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 7 New Orleans Saints (Thur), 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFL Network/Amazon
Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mon). 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Dec. 24 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 31 Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
THE FALCONS 2017 DRAFT