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Saints vs. Lions: Five Questions with Pride Of Detroit

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The New Orleans Saints (5-8) play the Detroit Lions (4-9) on Monday night, in a matchup of teams that didn't live up to offseason expectations. We spoke with Jeremy Reisman of Pride Of Detroit to preview the game and learn more about the Lions.

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Without further ado...

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1) Canal Street Chronicles: After going 11-5 and making the playoffs last season, the Lions came into this season with a lot of high expectations from pundits and observers. Did you share those expectations before the beginning of the season? And with the team now sitting at 4-9, what went wrong?

Jeremy Reisman: I had the lowest expectations of our staff when I predicted the Lions would go 9-7. I was weary of the Lions' offensive and defensive lines, but even I didn't think things would be this bad.

The Lions biggest issue this season has been the offensive line. As a result of poor offensive line play, the Lions have not been able to get anything going in the running game despite having a talented backfield. Once the Lions become one-dimensional, pass rushers have been making a living out of tormenting Matthew Stafford in the backfield.

Defensively, the Lions took an expected step back after losing the majority of their defensive line from 2014, but I don't think anyone expected it to be one of the worst defenses in the league over the first half of the season. They've since rebounded and played good football, but the damage had been done.

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2) CSC: Despite the Lions' disappointing season, Matthew Stafford has actually played fairly well this season, (65% completion rate, 24 TDs vs. 13 INTs and a 90.4 QB rating so far). However, when a team is losing, the quarterback is usually an easy target for criticism. How is Stafford viewed by Detroit's fans and media? Are people getting restless?

JR: Stafford received a lot of deserved criticism during the Lions' 1-7 start. At the time, his statistics were much worse (64.5% completion rate, 13 TDs vs. 11 INTs with an 84.1 QB rating). There was talk among fans that Stafford may no longer be the quarterback of the future, and we even looked into options the Lions had with Stafford going forward.

However, Matthew has really responded in the second half of the season, throwing 11 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions over the past five games. That has pretty much quieted the talk about Stafford for the time being (and rightfully so). The way his contract is set up, Stafford will definitely be around in 2016, but beyond that is likely dependent on his performance.

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3) We all know about Megatron, Stafford and star rookie running back Ameer Abdullah. Could you tell us about one player for the Lions on each side of the ball that may not be receiving the same type of accolades as these guys but could make a big impact on the game on Monday night?

On offense, keep your eye on Theo Riddick. Riddick has been the Lions' biggest threat in the passing game outside of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Riddick actually leads all NFL running backs in receptions and is second in receiving yards. He's a very shift back who, if given some open field, will embarrass a defender or two.

The Lions defense is led by the two-headed monster of Ezekiel Ansah and Darius Slay. Ansah is tied with J.J Watt for the second-most sacks in the league (13.5). Slay has been arguably the best shutdown corner over the past two months. During that time period, quarterbacks are averaging a passer rating of just 44.5 when challenging Slay.

On offense, keep your eye on Theo Riddick. Riddick has been the Lions' biggest threat in the passing game outside of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. -Jeremy Reisman

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4) CSC: If you could steal one Saints' player on either side of the ball who would it be and why?

JR: It would have to be someone along that offensive line, and even though there are some big names with the accolades along that line, I'd probably pick left tackle Terron Armstead. Armstead has been quietly getting some praise, and at 24 years old, he could be the Lions' left tackle for the next decade.

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5) CSC: There have been rumors that Jim Caldwell is a lame duck coach and will be let go on Black Monday, right after the regular season ends. Do you think he will survive past this season? If Caldwell is fired, who would be your top choices for new head coach of the Lions?

JR: I thought Caldwell saved himself with a three-game winning streak after a 1-7 start, but after he bungled the Hail Mary against the Packers and followed it up with a poor performance against the Rams, I think Caldwell's firing is pretty much a formality at this point, especially considering the Lions will have a new general manager in 2016.

As for my top choice, it would probably be Adam Gase, the current offensive coordinator with the Bears. Again, the Lions will be looking for an offensive minded coach to finally fix that side of the ball that has had so much perceived talent for the past five years, yet hasn't produced the results expected. Gase has already done a lot to make the Bears respectable in a short amount of time, which is exactly what the Lions need.

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Many thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to answers our questions. For more Saints-Lions coverage with a Motor City flavor, please check out the work of the guys at Pride Of Detroit.