The New Orleans Saints (5-8) notched their fifth victory of 2015 last week in a win at Tampa Bay and return home for the next two weeks, starting with Monday night's contest against the Detroit Lions, who enter the game at 49. The clubs have met 22 times in the regular season, with the Saints holding an 11-10-1 advantage in the series.
Since 1992, five of the 10 games between the two clubs have been decided by eight points or less, including the Lions' 24-23 victory at Ford Field on Oct. 19, 2014. Prior to New Orleans' loss in 2014, the Saints were running a three-game winning streak against the Lions, four including the 2011 NFC Wild Card Playoff matchup. The Saints have not lost at the Superdome to the Lions since 2000.
The Saints dominated the Buccaneers in the trenches last Sunday, never trailing in the 24-17 win. In addition to the score, New Orleans outgained Tampa Bay 388-291 and also won the time of possession battle 37:14-22:46. QB Drew Brees tied the NFL record for 300-yard passing games (93) and moved into fourth place all-time in touchdown passes (421), throwing for 312 yards with two touchdowns and a 113.1 passer rating.
Brees' top targets were WR Willie Snead, who hauled in a career-high seven passes for 122 yards, TE Benjamin Watson, who is ranked fourth in the NFC in receiving among tight ends with 61 catches for 712 yards and WR Marques Colston, who had two touchdown grabs. Watson's two-yard reception on New Orleans' final drive is not to be discounted, as he fought for the extra yard in a third-and-two situation at the Saints 25-yard line to extend a game-clinching drive that would take the final 4:13 off of the clock. Over the last five games, the steady Watson has recorded 23 grabs for 240 yards and one touchdown.
RB Tim Hightower received the start in place of Mark Ingram, who was placed on Injured Reserve with a season-ending shoulder injury, and saw his most significant action since a 2011 career-threatening knee injury caused him to be sidelined for three seasons. He carried a career-high 28 times for 85 yards and one touchdown burst.
A resurgent defense also paced New Orleans in the victory. The defensive line was sturdy against the run, while putting pressure on Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston. Rookie DE Obum Gwacham recorded a sack. The New Orleans secondary also came up big, taking advantage of the pressure, as they surrendered only 182 total net yards passing.