Head coach Dan Campbell returns to a familiar Caesars Superdome on Sunday to lead his 8-3 Detroit Lions against the 5-6 New Orleans Saints. Both teams are coming off tough divisional losses and will be eager to get back on track.
Last time out: Detroit suffered a 29-22 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was a rare off day for the Lions in a few areas. The offensive line allowed 12 quarterback hits and three sacks, quarterback Jared Goff fumbled three times, and the team was one for five on fourth down.
The defense failed to sack the quarterback again as Jordan Love had 268 passing yards, three touchdowns and a 125.5 passer rating. It wasn't all doom and gloom for the defense though. Outside of the first two Packers drives which ended in touchdowns, the Lions' defense gave up just a field goal and one touchdown—suffered largely due to a failed fake punt which gave the Packers the ball just outside the Lions' red zone.
New Orleans also dropped their Week 12 game to the Atlanta Falcons (24-15). The Falcons only had 168 passing yards, but the 228 yards rushing made the difference. Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu was a bright spot defensively, grabbing two interceptions.
Failure to capitalize in the red zone was the theme for the Saints' offense. Collectively they were unable to score a touchdown in their five red-zone opportunities. Quarterback Derek Carr threw a pick-six and Taysom Hill fumbled on two of those trips.
Comparison: Both teams have taken on the same three NFC South opponents—Buccaneers, Falcons and Panthers. Detroit bested all three of those teams by 14 or more points, putting a sweep of the NFC South on the table with a similar result in New Orleans. The Saints have one win over the Panthers but dropped their meetings with Tampa Bay and Atlanta.
Matchups: Goff and the Lions' passing game will be tested again as they take on their sixth opponent with a defense ranking in the top 10 in passing yards allowed. The Saints are allowing just 196.3 yards per game passing and have a dangerous knack for taking the ball away with 14 interceptions—just one below the league-leading 49ers. Campbell put an emphasis on ball security and limiting turnovers this week after back-to-back turnover-filled games for the Lions. Whether or not that practice translates on Sunday could play a key factor in deciding a winner.
In their last meeting: Detroit jumped out to a quick 14-0 advantage before the Saints rallied to score 35 straight to earn a 35-29 victory. The ground game set the two apart in that meeting. New Orleans nearly doubled the Lions rushing attempts and out-gained them 164 yards to just 90.
The overall series: A previously tied series has tilted in favor of New Orleans the last two contests. The Saints hold a 14-12-1 edge over the Lions.
Matchup odds: Detroit is favored by ESPN Analytics with a 56.2 percent chance to win.
View photos of the starters for the New Orleans Saints.
Here are 5 Saints storylines to follow heading into Sunday's matchup:
1. New Orleans Saints' offense on red alert in red zone
Head coach Dennis Allen is looking to fix what has been an ineffective red-zone offense this season, including last week's five touchdown-less trips … READ MORE
2. Coach Dennis Allen attuned to urgency that New Orleans Saints face
Coach Allen and his Saints team will be focused on returning to winning ways against the Lions after two straight underwhelming performances ... READ MORE
3. Derek Carr previews Week 13 vs. Detroit Lions
Quarterback Derek Carr addresses the team's recent offensive performances and previews the challenge the Lions defense presents ... WATCH
4. Dennis Allen talks red zone, Dan Campbell
Coach Allen speaks with media about his relationship with Dan Campbell, how his team is continuing to focus on red-zone offense and their recent inability to defend against the run ... WATCH
5. Lynn Bowden Jr. ready to fill any necessary role for New Orleans Saints
With Saints receivers Michael Thomas and Rashid Shaheed battling injuries, Lynn Bowden Jr. is ready to be the next man up ... READ MORE