Lions vs. Saints: Last-minute thoughts and final score prediction for the Week 13 matchup
This Sunday’s morning coffee is laced with a little chicory in honor of the Lions playing the Saints in New Orleans. It’s a little bitter, kind of like the way the Lions mad fans feel on Thanksgiving with a weak effort in a deflating loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The Week 13 matchup presents Detroit with a good chance to sweeten the smiles of Lions fans everywhere. The 5-6 Saints are home underdogs to the visiting Lions, and rightfully so. It’s time for the Lions to prove they are a viable NFC contender while damaging the postseason potential of a team that’s tied for first in the NFC South.
Why I think the Lions will win
I am a believer in the resiliency of the Lions, and more specifically, the ability of Dan Campbell to get his Detroit team to refocus. An extra couple of days to rest, but also to reflect with a clearer head about what’s not working lately, figures to do wonders for the Lions.
New Orleans is really bad in the red zone. The Saints convert just 42 percent of their red zone offensive possessions into touchdowns. That’s the fourth-worst in the NFL. However, over their last four games, the Saints are dead last at 25 percent. It’s what the doctor ordered for the Lions defense, which ranks 30th at 68 percent and that rate was over 75 percent in November. Defensively, the Saints are 19th in stopping red zone possessions from becoming touchdowns. The Lions offense is 14th (55.2 percent) but was 2nd in the month of November (77 percent).
The Saints pass defense statistics look pretty impressive, ranking in the top 10 in a lot of coverage and efficiency metrics. But have a look at the quarterbacks they’ve faced: Bryce Young, Mac Jones (who got benched in the game), Ryan Tannehill, Jordan Love (in Week 3), Baker Mayfield (who lit them up for 3 TDs and the league’s top QB Rating in Week 4), Gardner Minshew, Tyson Bagent, Josh Dobbs (1st start in Minnesota), Desmond Ridder. The best QB they’ve faced, Trevor Lawrence, tore them apart. Jared Goff, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams and Sam LaPorta should find a lot of success.
Detroit is wearing the all-white uniforms, a combination in which they’re typically at their best. Now throw the blue helmets on top and we’ve got uniform perfection. I’ll settle for a clean win.
What worries me about the Saints
Derek Carr is historically a volatile QB. He’ll struggle for three weeks in a row against bad defenses, then light up a top-five defense without rhyme or reason. That’s been his career path, one that finally frustrated the Raiders enough to give up on Carr. He’s due for that good day after throwing for just five TDs in his last seven games.
I believe that the underwhelming performance of the special teams has helped lead Dan Campbell to become unnecessarily aggressive on 4th down calls, and it’s cost his team. Coordinator Dave Fipp indirectly acknowledged that in his weekly press conference. Other than kicker Blake Grupe being inconsistent, the Saints special teams have been very, very good (though return specialist Rashid Shaheed is injured). It’s a stress point where Detroit must perform better in both special teams execution and fourth-down choices. No fake punts this week, please…
The lack of pass rush isn’t likely to be solved by Bruce Irvin’s elevation. And without Alex Anzalone in the lineup, Detroit’s linebacking corps is really lacking in coverage. Fold this into the above worry about Carr and the coffee needs something stronger than chicory…
Final score prediction
I see a get-right game for the offensive line after an abysmal performance last week. I see a big game for Jameson Williams and Sam LaPorta. I see the Lions defense creating more takeaways than the Saints get from Detroit.
Irvin is set to make his Lions debut against New Orleans
Veteran pass rusher Bruce Irvin is set to make his debut in a Detroit Lions uniform in Week 13. The team elevated Irvin and defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna from the practice squad for Sunday’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
Irvin was signed to the practice squad in November but has not been elevated until this week. With the Lions pass rush struggling of late–only two sacks in three games–moving up Irvin is worth the try.
Bohanna has filled in capably in being elevated the last two games. If the Lions wish to play the big nose tackle again beyond Week 13, they’ll need to add him to the active roster.
The Lions also announced that injured LB Alex Anzalone did not travel with the team and was downgraded from doubtful to out, as was widely expected.
Hooker has already reminded Campbell of why the Lions were so excited to draft the rookie QB
The Detroit Lions welcomed rookie QB Hendon Hooker onto the practice field for the first time this week. Hooker is finally allowed to throw and get on-field coaching now that he’s designated to be activated from the NFI list.
Head coach Dan Campbell likes what he sees of his young quarterback in the first practices.
“Yeah, look it’s good to get him out there,” Campbell told reporters. “I know he’s excited to be able to feel like he’s now a part of the team from his own perspective. That’s hard when you’re limited to, ‘I’m in meetings and that’s about it. Then I go in rehab.’ So, I know he’s excited to be out there.
“And look, we’re just in the beginning stages of it, but he’s – you can see just when he throws the ball, why we acquired him. He’s got a poise about him and he’s got a really smooth delivery if you will, tight spiral. But he’s just starting. He’s just starting, but it’s good to get him out there.”
Hooker will remain on the NFI list through the weekend. He was officially ruled out on the team’s final injury reportteam’s final injury report, so Hooker has yet to be activated. That could change in the coming week.
Saints Cameron Jordan and Chris Olave have their status’ up in the air for Sunday’s game against the Lions, their absence could be key.
The Detroit Lions showed on Thanksgiving day their passing coverage and offensive line both need some fine-tuning. At this point in the season every team needs to make adjustments but having to make them when your opponent is missing their star players always helps.
Obviously, no one wants players to be hurt but this Lions team could use some lighter work after their last two games. The Saints star pass rusher Cameron Jordan and wide receiver Chris Olave both have their status up in the air as of Saturday. Coach Dennis Allen hinted that it will come down to game time if either plays.
Mike Triplett of NewOrleans.Football reported that Jordan will be listed as questionable despite not practicing. Normally a player not practicing during a game week is an indicator he may not play but in the case of Jordan and his potential Hall of Fame career, he has earned being graded on a curve. Allen also mentioned they will give him every opportunity to play up to the last minute of the game.
On the situation surrounding Chris Olave, he remained in concussion protocol as of Saturday. Allen discussed his status by giving an update that he had one more step to complete and there was a chance he could clear it for the game.
Both Chris Olave and Cameron Jordan prove unique puzzles for the Lions to solve. Both the secondary and offensive line have not played particularly well the last two weeks so if they get cleared this game becomes much tougher for a Lions team on the ropes. The Saints are fighting for their lives in a crowded NFC South just as the Lions are fighting to remain on top in the NFC North.
Something has to give on Sunday and the status of Jordan and Olave are a big factor in that.
Detroit Lions Podcast: Time for the Lions to shine in New Orleans after a bad couple of games at home
The latest episode of the Detroit Lions Podcast is out and ready for viewing or streaming. This week’s episode was recorded on Thursday night live on the DLP YouTube channel.
This week’s episode wraps up the Thanksgiving loss to the Packers. We break down a very bad game for a very large portion of the Lions roster, including some players who very rarely have bad days. What can the coaching staff do to help snap Detroit out of the recent funk?
That leads to a deeper dive into the coaches, specifically defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. We discuss how much blame Glenn deserves and how much goes on the players for the struggles of late.
Detroit still maintains firm control of the NFC North, something that gets a little lost in the discussions about the Lions lately. The playoff scenarios for clinching and possible opponents get their due here.
Finally, it’s on to New Orleans and the Week 13 matchup with the Saints.
The audio-only version of the show is available via your favorite podcast provider.
Final Detroit Lions injury report for Week 13 vs. Saints has just one player ruled out
The Detroit Lions will be at nearly full strength when they face the Saints in New Orleans this Sunday. It’s a welcome status to have a smaller than normal injury report as the Lions look to get back in the win column in Week 13.
Only one active Lions player is ruled as doubtful: linebacker Alex Anzalone. The veteran will likely miss a trip to play his old team as he deals with a hand injury. Anzalone did not practice all week.
Left guard Jonah Jackson is questionable with a wrist injury that has sidelined him for the last two games.
The only player ruled out is rookie QB Hendon Hooker, who hasn’t been activated from the NFI list. It will be at least another week before Hooker is on the active 53-man roster and in uniform.
Williams has seen his snap counts and route options expand recently
It started out slowly for Jameson Williams in Detroit this season. After coming off his 4-game suspension to start the year, Williams barely made a blip on the stat sheet in the first few weeks back.
Sure enough, Williams is getting more acclimated into the Lions offense. His hard work is paying off. Williams has played over 40 snaps in each of the last two games after not topping 34 in any of his five prior games. He’s hauled in two passes in both games, good for 44 yards against Chicago and 51 on Thanksgiving versus Green Bay.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is happy to see the second-year speedster earning more reps. Johnson is seeing Williams’ hard work behind the scenes really start to pay dividends.
“He’s getting better every week,” Johnson said on Thursday of Williams. “You see it and because of that, the way he’s practicing, the way he’s preparing and the way he’s playing, because of that, his reps are going up. And so, he continues to get out there and the ball’s going to just start gravitating to him just a little bit more than it already has.
But he’s doing a really nice job and he just needs to continue to put in the work like he’s doing right now and good things will happen.”
Williams has been used more frequently on shorter routes, moving beyond the deep shots that were so problematic for Jamo and QB Jared Goff to connect on earlier in the season. Williams also played in the slot on over 25 percent of the snaps against Green Bay, a wrinkle that helps the young wideout get cleaner releases off the line.
With Alex Anzalone out, rookie Jack Campbell will become the defensive signal-caller vs. the Saints
As the weeks have gone on this season for the Lions, we continue to hear positive things about rookie linebacker Jack Campbell. Much of that praise is coming from defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
With linebacker Alex Anazlone set to miss multiple games due to a hand injury, the Lions defense is in desperate need for someone to step up. According to defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, that player appears to be Jack Campbell.
“The next voice you’re going to hear is Jack,” Glenn said on Thursday.
“He’s a true Mike backer. He has to be the one that makes all those checks and he’s capable of doing that. Smart, heady guy that’s tough. He’s built for these moments. I’m looking forward for him to be the actual mouthpiece of the defense going into this game,” said Glenn.
This was brought up when Glenn was asked on how the on-field communication will shift without Anzalone. Glenn said, “well, that’s the reason we got Jack.” It’s expected for Campbell to be the player to step-up and communicate more to the defense.
With the New Orleans Saints dealing with injuries at wide receiver, it wouldn’t be surprising if they relied heavily on their rushing attack. Their backfield consists of Alvin Kamra, Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill.
Campbell has played 383 defensive snaps this season. It’s resulted in 31 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Throughout some of my film studies, I’ve noticed that he’s played with some hesitation. Much of that is due to the fact that I think he’s afraid of making a mistake. As the Saints carry a backfield, quarterback and offensive line filled with veterans, it’s imperative that Campbell not only displays the ability to communicate but he’s also got to have a strong performance on the field.
The Lions and Broncos will face off on a Saturday night in prime time in Week 15
For months, the Lions’ Week 15 matchup against the Denver Broncos has had a “TBD” for the scheduled date and time. The TBD has now been determined.
In a press release, the NFL set the time for the Lions-Broncos game in Ford Field for Saturday, December 16th at 8:15 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast nationally on the NFL Network.
The matchup keeps getting more appealing by the week. Detroit is 8-3 and running away with the NFC North. The Broncos, meanwhile, have the NFL’s longest winning streak in improving from 1-5 to 6-5 and have worked their way back into the AFC playoff picture.
Detroit got some good news on the injury front in Thursday’s practice ahead of the game against the New Orleans Saints
After an initial practice report on Wednesday with a few key pieces not participating in full, Thursday saw the Detroit Lions get a lot closer to full strength. In fact, only one player was not a full participant due to injury.
Linebacker Alex Anzalone continues to sit out with a hand/wrist injury. Head coach Dan Campbell indicated earlier this week that Anzalone is not expected to play in the Week 13 matchup in New Orleans against the Saints, Anzalone’s former team.
The only other player who was not a full participant was center Frank Ragnow, who took his customary veteran rest day on Thursday.
Running back David Montgomery (foot), left guard Jonah Jackson (wrist) and safety Tracy Walker (shoulder) all upgraded from limited on Wednesday to full participation on Thursday. Rookie QB Hendon Hooker was also listed as a full participant as he works to get activated from the NFI list.
That development bodes well for Jackson, Montgomery and Walker to all play in Week 13, barring any final setbacks on Friday.