Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A post-draft look at the Falcons’ 2017 opponents: The Lions, Game Three

FLOWERY BRANCH — A look at the teams on the Falcons’ schedule and how they have reconstructed their roster since the season’s end:




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.


Exhibition season

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

Regular season

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


MUST READ PROFILE: Falcons top pick McKinley makes name for himself

2017 Falcons report card: Falcons earn a B-plus

NFC Champs add a pass rusher, quality depth 

1st rounder: Meet defensive end Takkarist McKinley

3rd rounder: Meet linebacker Duke Riley

4th rounder: Meet offensive guard Sean Harlow

5th rounder: Meet defensive back Damontae Kazee

5th rounder: Meet running back Brian Hill

5th rounder: Meet tight end Eric Saubert


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.