The New Orleans Saints will duke it out with the 8-3 Detroit Lions this Sunday in the Superdome. This season has gone in different directions for both of these squads. For the Saints, they brought in Derek Carr in hopes of competing for a playoff spot and potentially even a Super Bowl, but instead, this team is sitting in second place in the NFC South after a loss to Atlanta. For the Lions, this is their dream season. After so many years of mediocrity, this team is finally good and are in the hunt for the NFC crown.
At the beginning of the season, this game looked like it was going to be a fun one. Two teams with loads of talent on offense going at each other towards the end of the season, but instead, the Saints haven’t looked good on either side of the ball recently and the Lions were as hot as ever before their loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving.
The Lions offense is led by Jared Goff, a quarterback Saints fans are all too familiar with from his time with the Rams. After a few down years, Goff came to Detroit and has provided them with steady play at the QB position. This season, Goff has thrown for 3,075 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions through 11 games. He hasn’t been lights out, but he’s been well above average, and that’s all this team needs right now.
Out wide, the Lions are led by Amon-Ra St. Brown. After his breakout 2022 campaign, St. Brown has followed it up with 993 yards and five touchdowns in the ten games he’s played. The Lions also have rookie tight end Sam LaPorta who has come in and made an instant impact, catching 55 balls for 539 yards and five touchdowns. Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond round out the big four pass catchers for this team, both eclipsing 370 yards this season.
The Saints are going to be without Marshon Lattimore again this week, and that could prove to be a major factor in this game. With Lattimore out, Paulson Adebo will likely line up with St. Brown, and while Adebo is having a very good season, nobody has really been able to slow him down. Alontae Taylor will matchup with Josh Reynolds on the other side, but Taylor hasn’t played as well as his rookie year through 11 weeks, so Reynolds could be in for a big day. The Saints are also just a couple weeks removed from T.J. Hockenson wreaking havoc on this defense, and while LaPorta isn’t quite on Hockenson’s level, he’s a very good tight end who could cause a lot of issues.
The ground game is where the Lions really excel. Both Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery are averaging 4.9+ yards per carry and have gone over 550 rushing yards this season. Montgomery is more of the downhill runner who can bulldoze a defender for extra yards while Gibbs plays more the Alvin Kamara role. Gibbs has 41 catches for 278 yards this year, and he’s seen his workload grow each week.
The Saints are not very great against the run. They’ve been bullied upfront by opposing offensive lines, and this is probably the best unit they’ve faced to date. With Cam Jordan, arguably their best run defender out, the Saints are going to need big games from Pete Werner, Zach Baun and Demario Davis in the run game.
With the defensive struggles we’ve seen over the past few weeks, I don’t think the Lions will have too much trouble moving the football and scoring points. They average nearly 27 points per game, and I think they can reach that mark again this Sunday. The Saints offense can’t keep up with that, so the defense will need a very good performance if the Saints want to win.