Before the season, many observers thought the Saints were primed for a deep run in this year’s playoffs. The Lions were a squad people were waiting to pass judgment on with the team having hired a new coach. Thus far, New Orleans has looked lost, particularly on defense and on the road, while the Lions have been a pleasant surprise, despite a surprising week five home loss to Buffalo.
Before the season, many observers thought the Saints were primed for a deep run in this year’s playoffs. Most experts were waiting to pass judgment on the Lions and their new head coach, Jim Caldwell. Thus far, New Orleans has looked lost, particularly on defense and on the road, while the Lions have been a pleasant surprise, despite a surprising week five home loss to Buffalo.
New Orleans comes off of a bye at 0-3 on the road, both straight up and against the spread. The Saints opened the year with a 37-34 loss at Atlanta, fell in Cleveland 26-24, and got hammered by the Cowboys 38-17 during week four. However, New Orleans will be coming off of a bye week. The Saints are 6-3 under Sean Payton following a bye including playoff games and have won six straight regular season tilts after off weeks. New Orleans has won four straight games against Detroit dating back to 2005 with an average margin of victory of 21 points. But this is not the same Lions team as years past.
Unlike prior iterations, the Lions are a balanced team this year. They boast a top ten passing game and have a defensive unit among the best in the league against the pass and top ten in the NFL versus the run. In their first two home games under Caldwell, the Lions took care of business. Their only game this season against a pass-happy attack (like New Orleans) came in week three at home against the Packers. Green Bay was shut-out during the final three quarters in a 19-7 Lions win. Aaron Rodgers managed just 162 passing yards and one touchdown while completing 16 of his 27 attempts. In a season opening win against the Giants, the Lions picked off Eli Manning twice and limited him to only 163 yards on 55% passing. Against Buffalo in week five, however, the offense sputtered and the Lions fell 17-14 at home. Last year, the Lions were just 4-4 at home and 3-5 against the number.