The New Orleans Saints are slated to take on Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions in week 13 of the 2023 season. Campbell will be making his first appearance in the Superdome since accepting the Lions head coaching job in 2021.
Campbell has completely turned the Lions franchise around. Although they narrowly missed the playoffs in 2022, Lions fans are more optimistic about the team's future than they have been in years. They have a great young core and are led by Jared Goff, who was quietly one of the most efficient QBs in the NFL last season.
The Lions started the 2022 season 1-6 before winnings eight of their last ten games to finish the season 9-8. Going into week 18, the Lions still had a chance to capture a NFC Wildcard spot, but before they even played their week 18 game, they were eliminated after the Seattle Seahawks took down the Los Angeles Rams. Campbell and the Lions didn’t let that bother them. They marched into Lambeau field in December and snatched the playoff hopes from their NFC North rival Green Bay Packers in a 20-16 victory.
Detroit's offense was elite in 2022, finishing fifth in the NFL in points per game with 26.6. Jared Goff led the way with 4,438 passing yards, 29 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Amon-Ra St. Brown broke out, hauling in 106 passes for 1,161 yards and six touchdowns. The Lions added David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs to their backfield, giving them a dynamic one-two punch. They also added one of the top tight end prospects in this year's draft in Sam LaPorta to round out their offensive skill positions. Pair all of this with one of the best offensive lines in football, and this offense is going to be even more high powered than it was in 2022.
The main reason the Lions missed the playoffs last season was because of their lackluster defense. They ranked 28th in scoring defense in 2022, allowing just over 25 points per game to their opponents. Their first-round pick in last year's draft, Aidan Hutchinson, showed a lot of promise, but outside of him, they were flat out awful on the defensive side of the ball. This offseason, they put a lot of emphasis on adding talent to that side of the ball, signing guys like C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Mosley and drafting Jack Campbell and Brian Branch to bolster their defense.
The Saints get the benefit of playing this game in the Superdome and it will kickoff a three-game home stand. Unfortunately, it will be on the heels of the Saints first matchup with their NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons. The Saints and Falcons always play each other physically, so Saints fans can hope that their team can escape Atlanta with minimal injuries.
For the Lions, this game is sandwiched between three NFC North games. They’ll take on the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in weeks 11 and 12 before coming to New Orleans and then will play the Bears again in week 14. Campbell isn’t the type to overlook an opponent, but the Lions players could be looking ahead to week 14 if the NFC North race is close.
The Saints will be at a rest disadvantage. Although they’ll have a full week of rest, the Lions will have played on Thursday night in week 12, giving them 10 days off before their matchup with the Saints.
Depending on how things shake out, this game could be crucial for playoff seeding. The Lions and Saints are my picks to win their respective divisions, so a win here for the Saints could go a long way come playoff time. Both teams have high hopes for 2023, and this should be one of the best Saints game this regular season.
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