The Detroit Lions enter Week 3 of the NFL season looking to move back above .500 with a win over the undefeated Atlanta Falcons. The Lions are reeling after a overtime defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 while the Falcons are entering full of momentum after comeback win over the Green Bay Packers.
The Lions are currently three-point favorites at home over the Falcons according to Las Vegas sportsbooks but will be without key players on both sides of the ball. Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and outside linebacker James Houston were added to the injured reserve list this week. On offense, right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai was ruled out with a knee injury and running back David Montgomery (thigh) and left tackle Taylor Decker (ankle) remain questionable.
Rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs is expected to get a bigger workload if Montgomery is unable to go and will get the opportunity against fellow first-round running back Bijan Robinson. The Falcons rookie, picked four picks ahead of Gibbs and originally available to Detroit at the sixth pick, has lived up to the hype of his draft status.
Robinson has 29 carries for 180 yards and 10 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in Atlanta's two wins to start the season. Gibbs has only had 14 carries for 59 yards and nine catches for 57 yards in comparison should see an increase while sharing the backfield with Craig Reynolds instead of Montgomery.
Atlanta and Detroit appear to be on the same trajectory with playoff aspirations in the NFC after narrowly missing out last year. Sunday's matchup could prove to pivotal at the end of the season for playoff spots or seeding. Here is how national NFL and Atlanta writers are predicting the game:
Lions: The panel of USA TODAY NFL writers are big fans of the Lions this week, despite the injuries, and unanimously sided with Detroit.
Lions: Detroit won by a 5-4 vote on ESPN's nine-person panel.
Lions: The official league website's panel predicts by a 4-1 margin that the Lions will win a one-score game.
Falcons: CBS' Will Brinson predicts a close game and Atlanta will cover the spread in Vegas of a field goal margin. He did not predict the actual outcome of the game.
Falcons: The Athletic's Vic Tafur predicts Atlanta will cover the spread.
Lions: Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta's main newspaper, predicted the Lions will win a close game to ruin the Falcons' perfect start.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions a popular pick to beat Falcons among national pundits