The Detroit Lions’ marquee non-division home opponent comes in week seven when the New Orleans Saints pay a visit to Ford Field.
To get a feel for the Saints’ side of preparations for the 2014 season, I got together with John Hendrix of Who Dat Dish for a quick Q&A. Here are my questions followed by his responses.
1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?
"Absolutely! Let’s start with the draft. I graded the overall Saints draft with a B. I loved the first round selection of Brandin Cooks, and it was a sign that the Saints weren’t going to change their attack scheme on offense, something that was rumored to change after success against the Eagles and Seahawks in the playoffs. The only head scratcher I had was the selection of Alabama’s Vinnie Sunseri. However, we’re being shown why Sunseri is on the team, as he has taken a lot of the team’s 2nd string snaps.Free agency only brought in three players from other teams (Erik Lorig, Champ Bailey, and Jairus Byrd), but these were all key pieces to help the Saints for this season. The secondary will benefit tremendously with the addition of the veteran leadership, and it’s going to be tough to see who can throw on the Saints in 2014."
2. Which Rookie are you most excited to see play in 2014 and why?
Who Dat Dish
"The obvious answer is Brandin Cooks. However, I’m going to actually go with Stanley Jean-Baptiste. He draws an extreme amount of comparison to Seahawks corner Richard Sherman. He has some of the best teaching in the business with veteran Champ Bailey, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and secondary coach Wesley McGriff. We’ve seen the effects of converting a former basketball player to tight end, maybe we’re witnessing the next wave of converted receivers to cornerback."
3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?
"I have several questions. Who will be the Saints starting kicker? Are Joe Morgan, John Jenkins, and Jairus Byrd all healthy? Who will win in the wide receiver and secondary battles?"
4. What are your expectations for the team in 2014?
"Who Dat Nation feels great about this season. Personally, I believe this is the best roster the team has fielded under Sean Payton. Yes, even better than the 2009 Super Bowl team and 2011 team. I believe (and most everyone else believes) the NFC is down to the Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Whoever gains home field advantage will be crucial. I won’t tell you Super Bowl, but let’s start with the playoffs first"
5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up?
"I had the Lions game ranked at #10 on my ‘Ranking the 2014 New Orleans Saints Games‘ article. I believe that the storyline of former Saints players and personnel (Jed Collins, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Reggie Bush, and Joe Lombardi) will help fuel this matchup. I’m also looking forward to seeing Calvin Johnson versus Keenan Lewis. I believe this game is poised for a shootout, but in the end I give the advantage to my black & gold. Saints 34, Lions 28"