This week the Detroit Lions face off against the New Orleans Saints. This game is both exciting and scary for the Lions. They have a home game against a team that traditionally plays poorly on the road. They play against a defense that is 28th in the league in points against. They are 25th in the league in passing yards against. And finally, they are right around the middle of the pack in terms of rush defense. That is, of course, all of the good. Now for the bad. The Saints are the number 2 ranked passing offense in the league. They are the 8th ranked run offense in the league as well. They have allowed a mere 4 sacks this season so far. This could make for an interesting game.
- Detroit Lions Offensive Line vs. New Orleans Saints Defensive Line – The Detroit Lions offensive line is a mess. The Saints defense as a whole only has 6 sacks on the season. They are 29th in the league in sacks. This is a match up that heavily favors Detroit regardless of their struggles. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Tight Ends vs. New Orleans Saints Linebackers – The Saints have a pretty good linebacker core in David Hawthorne, Parys Haralson, and Curtis Lofton. The Lions are already without Joseph Fauria, and Eric Ebron has been dealing with a hamstring injury all week. If Ebron misses the game, Brandon Pettigrew could be the only healthy tight end. Edge Saints
- Detroit Lions Wide Receivers vs. New Orleans Saints Secondary – No one is expecting Calvin Johnson this week. That leaves Golden Tate, Corey Fuller, and a banged up Jeremy Ross. Ryan Broyles will likely suit up in Johnson’s absence, but will be play? If Ebron sits, I think the Lions roll out more 4 wide packages to compensate. The Saints have only 1 interception, they are without Jarius Byrd at safety, and have a weak secondary. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Running Backs vs. New Orleans Saints Run Defense – The Lions rush offense has been bad this season. Last week they had one of their best rush games behind Joique Bell and George Winn. With a healthy Reggie Bush and both Bush and Bell being motivated against their former team, they could give an extra bit this week. The Saints are a middle of the road rush defense team which only benefits Detroit. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Quarterbacks vs. New Orleans Saints Pass Defense – When you combine the lack of pass rush that the Saints have produced with the lack of interceptions they have with the high pass yards allowed, you end up with a disaster of the pass defense. That plays perfectly into Detroit’s hands with the offense desperately needing a breakout game. Even with Johnson out, I think the offense gets rolling early. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Defensive Line vs. New Orleans Saints Offensive Line – The Saints offensive line has done a good job of protecting Drew Brees this season. Brees also has a quick release and is relatively mobile. Detroit is coming off an 8 sack effort against Minnesota and the mobile Teddy Bridgewater. The difference here is Brees’ experence and quick release. This match up right here will define the game. If the defensive line can get to Brees enough to cause him to get flustered, this game will tilt toward Detroit’s favor real fast. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Linebackers vs. New Orleans Saints Tight Ends – Jimmy Graham is the x factor here. Sean Payton has not ruled him out, but there is a report of him being out 2-3 weeks for a shoulder injury. If he plays like he normally does, this is definitely the Saints’ biggest advantage. Detroit has struggled against tight ends, allowing them to lead their teams in receiving each week. Detroit’s linebackers are not as good as they were at the beginning of the season but Tahir Whitehead is coming into his own. Ben Watson is a terrific backup plan for the Saints. I am going to assume that Graham plays. Edge Saints
- Detroit Lions Secondary vs. New Orleans Saints Wide Receivers – The Saints have 4 great receivers to go to in Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston, Robert Meachum, and Kenny Stills. Detroit’s the best pass defense in the NFL. They have shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. Still though, I worry about the Saints spreading the field. Edge Saints
- Detroit Lions Run Defense vs. New Orleans Saints Running Backs – The Saints will get some yards. Given the way the past few games have gone, they will almost all come in the first drive. Detroit will adjust and defend the run well. After all, this is the second best run defense in the NFL. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Pass Defense vs. New Orleans Saints Quarterbacks – Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are the best quarterbacks Detroit has faced this year. Eli Manning has his Super Bowls but he’s mistake prone. Brees is a perennial powerhouse quarteback and will give Detroit a heck of a challenge. Joe Lombardi has likely given his advice to Teryl Austin on what the Saints’ offense will look like and I would bet that Austin will have his secondary ready for anything. Edge Saints
- The Saints return team has not been very explosive so far this season. Sam Martin has been good at his kick placements on punts and kicks winning the field position battle. Jeremy Ross has had an off year returning so far this year but it does not mean he should be overlooked. The real wild card here is the field goal team. Detroit has struggled mightily on field goals all season. Rookie Nate Freese was released after a poor start to the season. Alex Henery was released after missing three field goals essentially costing the Lions the game at home against Buffalo. Matt Prater missed two of three attempts last week in Minnesota, but there was considerable wind and he has not played since the preseason. Still, If the Lions cant get their kicking game under control, this could get ugly. I see Prater settling the special teams down this week. Edge Lions
Lions 7 Saints 4
This game is a classic match up between a top ranked offense and a top ranked defense. We saw one of these match ups in the Super Bowl with the defense winning in dramatic fashion. I do not expect that type of domination this week, but I do expect a good football game. If Detroit can get their offense going this week against an inferior defense, this could be a good solid Detroit win. If the offense falters, the Detroit defense will be asked to step up again. I will predict a Detroit win this week, but it will be a close one.
Detroit Lions 24 New Orleans Saints 13