Detroit Lions (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS, 3-2 O/U) vs. New Orleans Saints (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS, 3-1 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Line: New Orleans Saints -3.5. Total: 51.
The New Orleans Saints will be trying to win their third game in a row when they host the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon. New Orleans is 2-2 following victories over Carolina and Miami that led into its bye week. The Lions are 1-2 in their last three (3-2 overall) after losing at home to the Panthers this past weekend.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered a hamstring injury and a sprained ankle in a 27-24 loss to Carolina last week. Stafford’s week of practice will determine whether he plays on Sunday against the Saints. If the former University of Georgia standout is unable to go, Jake Rudock–who has never taken a snap in the NFL– would be the starter unless the team makes a move for another backup.
“I don’t know yet,” Stafford said of his status. We’ll see…. Why would you want another team to know exactly what’s going on with you if you don’t have to mention it? Obviously, the reports come out and all that kind of stuff, and that’s about as much information as we’re as a team going to get out. There’s no real win in telling everybody in America what’s going on with ya, right? ‘What’s the positive’ is how I look at it.”
The positive is that as of Monday night, Stafford is expected to play.
The Saints were dead last in the NFL in passing defense through two weeks of the season. In blowout losses at the hands of Minnesota and New England, New Orleans was torched for 777 yards through the air. Six touchdown passes were thrown by quarterbacks of the Vikings and Patriots. Their opponents’ total QBR was 93.8–almost 20 points higher than any other defense in the NFL prior to Week 3. To saw the switch was flipped thereafter, however, would be an exercise in the understatement. The Saints were the only team in the entire league that refused to surrender a single touchdown pass in Week 3 or Week 4 (not coincidentally, those resulted in convincing wins over the Panthers and Dolphins). Their opponents’ total QBR in those two contests was a laughable 6.4–almost 12 points better than any other defense. The biggest difference has been the elimination of explosive plays. In its first two outings, New Orleans was abused to the tune of 11 passing plays of at least 24 yards and 23 passing plays of at least 15 yards. In their two wins, the Saints allowed only one passing play of at least 24 yards and six of at least 15 yards.
“I think our guys got a little taste of humble pie,” secondary coach Aaron Glenn explained. “Sometimes when you have success in the preseason, a lot of times it doesn’t carry over; the work’s not still there. And our guys kind of got humbled a little bit…. We all just buckled down, locked ourselves in the meeting room and made sure that we had everything down pat. And that’s what we’re gonna continue to do. There’s no looking back.”
The Detroit Lions are:
- 3-7 ATS in their last 10 overall
- 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games against the NFC
- 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games on fieldturf
The New Orleans Saints are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall
- 8-1 ATS in their last nine games following a bye week
- 21-5 ATS in their last 26 home games against teams with winning road records
The Saints’ defense is never going to be confused with some kind of impenetrable object, but it has made major strides of late. New Orleans will likely have to go up against Stafford on Sunday, but it may not matter. The defense is playing with confidence and Stafford will likely be less than 100 percent. Detroit is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 overall, 3-7 ATS in its last 10 against the NFC, 3-7 ATS in its last 10 on fieldturf, and 1-4 ATS in its last five after allowing more than 350 yards of offense in its previous outing. The Saints are 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall, 8-1 ATS in their last nine following a bye, 37-17-1 ATS in their last 55 against winning opponents, 21-5 ATS in their last 26 at home against opponents with winning road records, 7-2 ATS in their last nine following a win, 4-1 ATS in their last five against the NFC, and 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings between the two teams. Expect those trends to continue.
Pick: New Orleans Saints -3.5
Of course, it would be foolish to forget about the Saints’ offense. Even at 38 years old (still younger than Tom Brady!), Drew Brees remains Drew Brees. The veteran has passed for 1,135 yards through four outings, has thrown eight touchdowns, and has not been picked off a single time. New Orleans has scored at least 20 points in all four of its contests–including 29 on one occasion and 34 another time. The over is 4-1 in the Lions’ Week 5 contests and 6-2 in their last eight after gaining less than 250 yards of total offense in their previous outing. It is also 6-1 the Saints’ last seven overall, 11-3-1 in their last 15 at home, 5-0 in their last five against the NFC, 4-0 in their last four on fieldturf, and 9-1 in their last 10 following a bye. Look for this one to go over the total.