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Saints vs. Lions Series History: Motor City Madness

A look back at the Rock City versus the Big Easy.

Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints return to action this Sunday afternoon, taking on the Detroit Lions at home after last week's bye. The Saints come into the game at 2-2, winners of two straight, while Detroit enters the contest at 3-2.

This will be the 26th meeting between the Saints and Lions, with the series currently tied at 12-12-1. The first meeting between these two teams took place on November 24, 1968 in Detroit. The game ended in a 20-20 tie, the first tie game in Saints franchise history and the only NFC opponent that New Orleans has ever registered a tie against. The next 10 meetings between the two from 1970 until 1989 resulted in alternating wins for each team, with Detroit finally getting the first consecutive win in the series in a 1990 contest. After that 1990 meeting, each team has alternated two 3-game winning streaks in the 12 regular season meetings since, with Detroit having won the last 3 games between the two.

The Saints own a 9-5 all-time record against the Lions at home, including 1-0 in the playoffs. The only postseason meeting between these two teams took place during the 2011 season. New Orleans, with a record of 13-3 during the season, hosted the 10-6 Lions on January 7, 2012 in a matchup of two powerful passing attacks. The Saints overcame a 14-10 halftime deficit to win 45-28, in a game where New Orleans had 630 yards of offense. The Saints endured a 380-yard passing performance from Matthew Stafford and a 211-yard receiving game from Calvin Johnson, countering with a 466-yard and 3-touchdown passing day from Drew Brees and including two 100-yard receiving days from Marques Colston and Robert Meachem.

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Saints have lost the last three straight games against Detroit since that playoff victory, including two at home. New Orleans notched the very first victory in this series, which was also the first game played between the two in New Orleans, on one of the most famous plays in Saints franchise history.

The game was played in Tulane Stadium on November 8, 1970. The Saints had come into the game with a 1-5-1 record in a season that they would win just two games. Detroit meanwhile, was on their way to a 10-4 record and a playoff berth, and came in with a 5-2 mark. Although the Saints struck first with a field goal, they trailed most of the game until a 4th quarter touchdown run from Tom Barrington.

The Lions were able to retake the lead on a short field goal with nearly no time left on the clock, and looked to have dispatched the lowly Saints. With just 2 seconds left on the clock, New Orleans turned to kicker Tom Dempsey, who nailed a 63-yard field goal to give the Saints an improbable 19-17 victory. Dempsey's field goal was an NFL record, and went unmatched until tied in 1998, and not broken until a 64-yard kick by the Denver Broncos' Matt Prater, the current Lions kicker, until 2013.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered an ankle injury in their loss to Carolina last week. He will play against the Saints, but has been noticeably limited in movement. The Lions have allowed 18 sacks already this year, and an aggressive Saints defense has gathered 8 sacks in their last two games. The New Orleans secondary has played excellent football in wins over the Panthers and Dolphins, and seem to be improving each week. They'll look to contain Lions receiver Golden Tate, who has 344 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns in his last 3 games against the Saints.

Offensively, New Orleans could get wideout Willie Snead and left tackle Terron Armstead back into the lineup, but Andrus Peat has been hobbled with injury and is questionable to play. The Detroit defense is ranked high against the run, but lost defensive tackle Haloti Ngata for the season with injury. The Lions have talented safeties, athletic linebackers, and one of the better cornerbacks in the league with Darius Slay, yet are ranked 27th in pass defense.

The Saints tackles will have to control Detroit ends Ziggy Ansah and Anthony Zettel, who have four sacks apiece. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has thrown 9 touchdowns without an interception in these first 4 games. Wide receiver Michael Thomas and rookie running back Alvin Kamara are the stars of a New Orleans passing attack that has not yet hit it's full potential, but still ranks 4th in the league. The Saints could have their most productive passing game of the season against a vulnerable Lions defense, and the New Orleans defense is looking like a stronger unit with each passing week.

PREDICTION: Saints 28, Lions 21

Poll

Who wins Sunday's game between New Orleans and Detroit?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Saints
    (29 votes)
  • 27%
    Lions
    (11 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now