The Detroit Lions Play The New Orleans Saints On Sunday.
The Saints are not yet playoff irrelevant. They trail the race distantly, but can still make a run. A loss to the Lions would change that this week. The Lions are looking to take another step toward their second playoff appearance in three years, and first division title in a very long time. At this time of year every game is a must win, and this is no exception.
The Saints could still catch the Lions in the wild card race, though their chance is relatively small. The Lions magic number against the Saints is currently three. Two of those would be taken care of with a Lions win and Saints loss. A head to head victory against the Saints would also give the Lions the tie breaker. That means that if the Lions win this game, they eliminate one of their competitors in the NFC playoff race entirely.
The Quarterback Battle
These are unquestionably the best their franchises have ever seen. Since week ten of the 2015 season, Matthew Stafford is second in the NFL in completion percentage. Since week ten of the 2015 season, Drew Brees is first in the NFL in completion percentage. Stafford has thrown 38 touchdowns, Brees 44.
Brees also narrowly edges out Stafford in touchdown to interception ratio. As great as Stafford has been for the Lions, Brees is one of the NFL’s elite for the Saints, and unquestionably headed for the Hall of Fame. A victory for Stafford in this head to head match up would go a long way toward silencing those critics he still has left. Brees however has only a few shots left before father time catches up with him.
Both Quarterbacks have more than enough motivation to ensure a great match up this weekend.
The Lions punter is leading the NFL in net punting average, and has the most 50+ yard punts in the league. Martin is having such a good season, that his net average is the second best a punter has had through twelve weeks since 1992. In week one, he tied the NFL’s second best single game net average, and set a lions record since 1960. Martin has the three best seasons for a punter since 1965. This has nothing to do with the Saints game, but it needed to be said. Sam Martin is a great punter.
Death, Taxes, and…
Since I’m in a special teams mood, Don Mulbach passes Jeff Backus on Sunday for sole possession of fourth in Lions history with a consecutive games streak of 192 games. Before we get too excited however, the Lions record is Jason Hanson with 327, and lasted 21 seasons. Mulbach seems unlikely to challenge the team record.
Lions 32, Saints 28
This game has all the earmarks of a shootout. The Saints offense has been rolling, and their defense tends to give up points in chunks. The Lions have been having issues on both sides of the ball, winning games through a certain amount of smoke and mirrors, along with some inspired special teams play. The bottom line is that more often than not they have been getting the job done, and I expect that to be the outcome this week in a barn burner.