Two teams that have been known for high-powered offenses and unproductive defenses in recent seasons face off on Sunday afternoon. That label has slowly begun to change, as the Lions are likely better on defense at this point in the season than they are on offense. They have built arguably the best defensive line in the NFL through the draft and they unleashed the line along with the rest of their relentless defense on the Vikings and their rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The young Vikings signal caller threw three interceptions and was harassed all day long in his “welcome to the NFL” moment. Lion’s running back Joique Bell put the game away with a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter as he finished the game with 18 carries for 74 yards. The Lions offense has been a struggle all season long and they played this game without star wide receiver Calvin Johnson and starting running back Reggie Bush. The Saints have also somewhat struggled with their offense when you consider how prolific it has been in past seasons. The team found themselves down constantly throughout the game and had to play from behind. Brees led the comeback, however he was also part of the problem by throwing three interceptions early in the game. He was 35 -57 for 371 yards and 2 touchdowns. The team was able to make its comeback despite missing star tight end Jimmy Graham after he suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the game. This all sets up an interesting matchup of two once dominant offenses that are trying to find their way.
The Saints Head Coach Sean Payton is an offensive mastermind and it is highly likely that he will be able to fix the holes in the offense following the bye last week. Look for running back Pierre Thomas to continue to produce as a pass catcher in the absence of Graham. Also look for the return of running back Mark Ingram to help the running game overall. He is a big physical back who likes to run in between the tackles. He will add a missing element to the overall attack. This will be key in keeping the dominant front 4 of the Lions to respect both the run and the pass and open up the play action passing game for Brees.
The Lions really miss Bush and Johnson. Johnson is the most unstoppable player in the NFL when healthy. Bush has found a perfect home in Detroit as a pass catching option for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford has struggled mightily in their absence. He was only 19-33 for 183 yards and a touchdown last week. He will need to find a way to make things happen with his healthy players. Look for Golden Tate to be a target for him early and often in an attempt to get the passing game going. They will also continue to get the ball to Joique Bell on the ground in hopes of establishing a more balanced attack.
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