After the unspeakable horribleness of last week’s game against the Packers, the Lions now head to New Orleans for an even tougher task. Trying to beat the Saints. The Saints are in great form with 3 straight wins on the trot, since their week 9 loss to the Rams. The Lions will be getting their 2nd primetime game of the season, as this match-up was flexed in for the Patriots vs. Colts blockbuster, which previously held it.
The Saints are being led once again by their eventual Hall of Famer, Drew Brees. Brees is absolutely blitzing the league, leading the NFL in passing yards with 3689 and is only behind Aaron Rodgers with a 70.2% completion percentage. But Brees isn’t the only weapon on this team. Darren Sproles, who was acquired in the off-season, has been a king of all trades for the Saints throughout the season. He’s currently leading in yards per rush for anyone who’s had over 50 carries, at a 6.8 clip. But he’s been most dangerous in the passing game with 62 catches for 476 yards. It’s obvious that the Lions are going to have a very tough test trying to stop the Saints on Sunday night, and it’s tough to see where it’ll happen.
The Lions are coming in off probably their worst loss of the season. I can’t think of any real positives out of the game. Despite only losing by 12, the Lions couldn’t have played much worse than they did. Some good news, though, is that Matthew Stafford’s finally removed the glove and splint from his hand, and it looks like Kevin Smith will be able to play. Maybe not in a complete role, but any help they can get is appreciated right now. Two massive losses, though, are those of Louis Delmas and Chris Houston. Not much worse of a time to lose them, as they’re about to take on the 2nd best QB in the NFL right now. And of course, Ndamukong Suh, who stupidly stomped on one of the Green Bay linemen last week, but I’m sure you’ve heard all that ad nauseum. I’m excited to see what Fairley can do, though.
Look, the answer to a Lions win is as simple as can be. Stop Drew Brees. But unless they knock him out, ala Aaron Rodgers last year, this won’t be happening. The Saints O-Line is also one of the best in the league, making the task that much more difficult. The Lions should definitely be able to hang with them on offense, regardless of Kevin Smith’s playing time. But with 2 major injuries in the secondary, and the best linemen not playing, it’s going to be a struggle, I imagine.
I haven’t even mentioned the Saints WR corps yet, which is possibly their strongest weapon. They have a top 10 WR in Marques Colston as well as the top TE going round in Jimmy Graham. The Lions have done a pretty good job of stopping TE’s, but Graham’s not like most of them, he’s a bigger, stronger, not as fast WR. He posts up the opposition, akin to Basketball, and pulls down the ball. Simply put, he’s the next Antonio Gates. The key to the Saints passing attack is how much they spread the ball around. A lot like the Packers. The Saints other WR’s are all top class players in Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson. The Saints seem to just have too much for the Lions to handle.
If the Lions can miraculously stop Drew Brees, then they have every chance of winning, but I just think the Saints have too many weapons for the Lions to compensate for, and they’ll end up being out of position too often to stop Brees effectively. I think Brees will throw for 320+ yards with 4 TD’s, while Matthew Stafford with throw for 370+ yards and 3 TD’s. The big difference in numbers, is that I expect the Lions to be down early and the only way they’ll be able to get back into the game is to use the air. Not to mention that Eli Manning put up 400 yards in last week’s contest, and I think Stafford has better weapons, especially in Calvin.
In the end, though, I expect the Lions will fall to the Saints. Hopefully it’ll be a close match heading into the 3rd quarter, but I anticipate Brees will turn it on from there-on-out.
Prediction: Saints 38, Lions 30