The Saints will don throwback uniforms for Week 13 as part of the team's 50th Season celebration.
A two-game winning streak would lift the New Orleans Saints back to .500, at 6-6. Here are a few ways that they may be able to accomplish that Sunday against Detroit in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:
- The Saints have the league's most productive quarterback in Drew Brees, who leads the NFL in passing yards (3,587), touchdowns (30), completions (326), attempts (456) and completion percentage (71.5). And yet, New Orleans has constructed a complimentary running game that Detroit won't be able to ignore. The Saints, in their last five games, have rushed 155 times for 767 yards, an average of 153.4 per game, and currently rank ninth in the league at 114.6 yards per game. And the last four games arguably have been the most productive in Mark Ingram II'scareer – 47 carries for 382 yards (8.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, plus two more touchdowns receiving with 94 yards on eight catches. Ingram and Terron Armstead(103 carries for 417 yards and a touchdown this season) give the Saints the balance that the Lions will attempt to take away. And they help give the Saints the ability to dominate time of possession.
- That said, Brees is the centerpiece of the offense. The Saints score 34 points per game at home and have scored at least 32 points in four of six games in the Superdome. Look for receiver Drew Brees(51 catches for 736 yards and six touchdowns) to get some early looks; he didn't have a reception in the offensive explosion (49 points, 555 yards) against the Rams. But, also, look for the Saints to do what they do in the passing game: Spread the wealth to several receivers, with whomever is open being Brees' primary target. Defenses may begin giving special attention to rookie receiver Michael Thomas, who leads the team in receptions (65), receiving yards (789) and receiving touchdowns (seven). If Detroit goes that route, and works overtime to take away Cooks, Thomas and Willie Snead, tight ends Josh Hill(six catches for 74 yards) and Coby Fleener(four catches for 59 yards) had solid days against the Rams.
- Defensively, the Saints have come on strong in the last six games, not allowing an opponent to score more than 23 points during that span – the average of 20.5 points allowed during that stretch is a full 10.3 points per game less than was allowed in the first five games. Part of that success is due to the fact that the Saints have been able to take away the run, allowing just 501 yards 143 carries, an average of 83.5 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. But the Lions' numbers say that's just fine with them; Detroit averages 80.8 rushing yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. Theo Riddickis the leading rusher, with just 355 yards and a touchdown on 88 carries. So linebackers Craig Robertsonand Dannell Ellerbecould find themselves busy in pass defense against tight ends and running backs coming out of the backfield.
- The reason the 'backers figure to be busy in pass coverage? Because the Lions – 7-4 and winners in theatrical fashion, given that all 11 games have been decided by seven points or less – put the ball in the hands of quarterback Matthew Stafford(261 of 391 for 2,883 yards and 19 touchdowns, with five interceptions) and his receivers. So, as Saints Coach Sean Paytonsaid earlier this week, the Saints will have to tackle well in space against receivers Golden Tate(57 catches for 617 yards and two touchdowns), Anquan Boldin (48-392-6) and Marvin Jones(42-730-4), as well as Riddick (48-356-4) out of the backfield. Keeping gains to a minimum with sure tackling is crucial, as is pressuring Stafford. He has been sacked 25 times, so Saints defensive end Cam Jordan(five sacks) and defensive tackles Nick Fairley(4.5) and Sheldon Rankins(two) may be able to create some opportunities.
- The Saints had a relatively clean special team game against the Rams, nothing spectacular in the pro or con column (they averted catastrophe on Tommylee Lewis'muffed punt when Shiloh Keorecovered). Keeping it that way for a second consecutive week will be an added bonus.