Conversing with the Competition: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints get a lot of national attention thanks to their success over the last few years but that doesn’t mean we have the kind of familiarity with them that we have with the Lions.

I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to Keith Null, editor of Who Dat Dish, and he was kind enough to answer them to give SideLion Report readers an insider look at the New Orleans Saints.

Here we go…

Zac Snyder: How would you assess the Saints’ season so far?

Kith Null: I think what we have seen from the Saints is a little inconsistency this season. Case in point of course was after their 62 point smashing of the Colts they traveled to St. Louis and were whipped by the Rams. Now though they have won their last three in a row, including two division games, and seemed to have found their rhythm as enter the home stretch towards a third consecutive playoff appearence.

ZS: The Saints seem to be unstoppable at home and sometimes struggle on the road, what is the cause of such variation in performance and what do the Lions need to do to give themselves a chance to win?

KN: Historically the Saints have been among one of the NFL’s winningest teams at home in the Sean Payton era. Reason are numerous — faster artificial turf, raccous Superdome crowd — but in the simplest terms the New Orleans players love to play for Who Dat Nation, and equally Who Dat Nation love cheering for Brees and company. Put it all together and it seems that the players perform just a little better, while opposing teams play just a little worse. If the Lions expect to win there they will have to play perfect football, not turn the ball over, handle the noise, and try and rush Brees on a consistant basis.

ZS: Are Saints fans surprised by the huge impact Darren Sproles has had this year or did they expect him to be this dynamic?

KN: I don’t think fans have been suprised by Sproles as much as you may think. After all his body of work was well documented from his time with the San Diego Chargers, and moving into an offense as potent as the Saints, with a coach that knows how to use him, the odds were high that he would be extremely successful. Now, maybe what was a surprise to fans is how tough he is as a runner when banging it up the middle between the tackles — Reggie Bush never did this very well — and it’s been a welcome addition to an offense that have long lacked that physical style of runner.

ZS: The Saints have been regarded as an offensive team, what is your take on where the Saints defense is right now?

KN: The defense is improving right now from week-to-week. They have been able to generate good pressure on opposing quarterbacks, have stiffened up against the run, and stopped the bleeding when in red zone situations. Realistically everyone knows that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is probably going to blitz 75% of the time, especially on third down, and if we know this then the other team certainly does as well. It’s tough as his pressure can generate great things (sacks, turnovers, errant throws) for the Saints defense, but can also leave the corners and safeties in one-on-situations in the secondary that can lead to big pass plays down the field. It would be nice to see Williams become a little more balanced with the blitz, after all a little zone coverage never killed anyone.

ZS: How do you think this game will go and what is your prediction for the final score?

KN: I never make predictions about games because of superstition. Some don’t understand this, but if you have followed the Saints as long as I have then at times superstition is all that you had left at the end of the day and at the end of another losing season. But dealing in fact what we know is that the Saints are virtually unbeatable at home, and the Lions have struggled as of late after opening up the season 5-0. The odds are greatly stacked against the Lions securing a win, while heavily favoring the Saints to move to 9-3.

Topics: Darren Sproles, Detroit Lions, Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton

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