How big is Sunday's game against Atlanta for the Lions?

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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Almost every Saturday, we'll take one or two of your questions to answer in a weekly Detroit Lions mailbag. To ask a question for a future Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email me at Michael.rothstein@espn.com or reach out on Facebook here.

Now, on to this week's question.

This is an interesting one, Tyler, because there are different theories on this. The first is that every game is its own litmus test of sorts in that there's only 16 of them in a year and even if you win your benchmark games, if you lose games you should theoretically win, it doesn't matter much at all.

But Sunday's game between the Lions and the Atlanta Falcons does have a bigger feel to it, even if it isn’t in prime time and playoff implications are not involved (yet). But Atlanta is the reigning NFC champion. The Falcons and Lions are two of the four undefeated teams in the NFC (along with Tampa Bay and Carolina).

Lions coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged Friday that he knows "it's a heck of a team" the Lions will face Sunday. It's a team that hasn't shown similar fallbacks after a Super Bowl loss that other squads have. And it's a team that will be the most formidable, offensively and defensively, the Lions have faced early in the season.

Caldwell said he tries to keep his team away from treating matchups like this is as mile-marker games. The truth, though, is games like these can give you an idea of what type of team you really have.

"I don't think you know, exactly," Caldwell said. "I think you have a good feel for it but it's just like anything else. You have to get matched up against some folks before you really start to say, 'you know what, you know what.'

"You may believe you're pretty good. I think we're pretty good. But the proof is in the pudding. Let's go see. Let's go see how we measure up. Let's go see how we match up. I get excited about that end of it."

Considering the Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers are all in the same division, they will clearly knock each other around at some point. The Lions, though, could use Sunday's game as a springboard to potentially big things this season. A win would continue Detroit's best start since 2011, too.

And although the Lions might not view it as a mile-marker game, it's one that clearly could be looked at -- win or loss -- as one.