Contest Against New Orleans Saints Will Provide Detroit Lions Good Measuring Stick


In college football, a key theme remains that a team is only as good as the competition it plays. If that’s the case, the Detroit Lions would be a decent college football team.

They probably still wouldn’t be one of the best, however, considering their competition to this point has a 16-19 record. This weekend, though, the team has a chance to make a major statement when they welcome in the New Orleans Saints to Ford Field.

This season, New Orleans, a chic preseason Super Bowl pick, has struggled out of the gate to a 2-3 record themselves. But that doesn’t change their recent overwhelming levels of success, and the offensive firepower they will be packing when they head to Detroit. It also doesn’t change their coaching from Sean Payton, a Super Bowl winner and one of the best tacticians in the league.

More from Lions News

For all their warts, the Saints will bring Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston and rookie sensation Brandin Cooks. This group will surely put Detroit’s NFL-leading defense on notice, and should. As good as the Lions have been on that side of the ball in 2014, they haven’t faced an offense so capable of rapid combustion.

Defensively, though the Saints have struggled in places—they’re giving up nearly 270 passing yards a game to the opposition—the team still ranks 10th overall in total defense. They’ve given up 1,898 total yards, though, meaning they are clearly susceptible on the other side of the ball and have been prone to breakdowns in key moments.

So, basically, it comes down to this: to win the game at home, a Lions’ team that has played excellent defense needs to step up against one of the better offenses in the league, and a Detroit offense which hasn’t done anything of note in two weeks needs to find a way to score against a defense that can be had.

Sound easy? Maybe. However, the Lions are also playing to prove they belong in the NFC race. There’s no doubt a win over the Saints would boost them in that regard, while probably helping bury New Orleans in the process. In situations like that, throw out the records. If ever there was a time where a small amount of pressure could cause a “same old Lions” type meltdown, this is it.

If ever there was a time where a small amount of pressure could cause a “same old Lions” type meltdown, this is it.

Consequently, this is a week that the team needs to step up and prove they belong. Many will expect them to win, and perhaps dominate a struggling Saints team. The reality is, New Orleans isn’t as bad as their record, and the Lions might not be quite as good as theirs. They must throw everything else out and play up to the moment at hand. In big games before, that’s rarely happened, making this week the ideal measuring stick for where the Lions are at.

Want to be taken seriously as an NFC contender, Detroit? Take a good team like the Saints that’s accomplished plenty in the last five years behind the woodshed at home. Prove the defense is elite by stopping an elite offense, and show some offensive capability yourselves.

Early in the year, the Lions probably couldn’t find a better test—or opportunity—for their current abilities than the one that New Orleans will provide on Sunday afternoon.