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Week In Review

WEEK IN REVIEW: Lions next challenge a talented Saints team

After a long weekend following their Thanksgiving Day victory over the Vikings, the Lions are gearing up for their next game against a very talented opponent.

The New Orleans Saints are known for their top-ranked offense, lead by veteran quarterback Drew Brees. So what makes their offense so tough to defend?

"Obviously, Drew has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league for a long time, pretty prolific," Caldwell said.

"Those guys have been together. He's been in the same system. Sean's (Payton) been calling the plays, he has a great feel for it and he functions extremely well within it and they get guys that are explosive guys on offense that can catch it and run with it. They do a nice job."

The matchup will be a good test for the Lions' improved defense. That unit has held opponents to under 20 points per game in the last five weeks.

"I think we've been trending in the right direction more than five weeks," Austin said. "I think that the biggest thing we've done is we've solidified in terms of our run fits and run gaps.

"We've been holding people down in the run game. I think that helps us tremendously keep points down. We don't allow teams to be two dimensional, so I think that's going to be important."

If the Lions can make the Saints' offense one-dimensional, they'll still have to slow Brees down, or out-duel him on offense, something quarterback Matthew Stafford is certainly capable of.

Former Lion and current Saints defensive end Darryl Tapp is not surprised by Stafford's play and the Lions' success this season.

"I'm not amazed," Tapp said in his conference-call interview with Detroit media. "That's the team that Coach Caldwell built.

"Like I said, 'Nine' (Stafford) is playing tremendous ball. He's been that guy. I tell a lot of people around here that kind of get caught up in the way he's playing. Nine has been that way his entire career, and definitely the last few years I was there."

For Mike O'Hara's full scouting report on the Saints, click here.

Kicker Matt Prater has been Mr. Clutch for the Lions this season. In fact, he's been pretty clutch his entire career as he's 25-for-25 on game-tying/winning field goals in the fourth quarter or in overtime.

His game-tying and game-winning field goals vs. Minnesota on Thanksgiving earned him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors and helped him win the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month award for November.

But if you ask Prater to recount what happened on all of his clutch kicks, he probably won't be able to tell you. He's focused on the kicks he didn't make, always trying to improve.

"I'm more of a guy that tries to fix things I screwed up on this year," Prater said. "I could name all the kicks that I've had that I've missed and what happened. I couldn't tell you what happened on the makes.

"At the end of the year, I'll look back and decide whether I feel like I had a good year or didn't have as good of a year and try to improve, so I don't make the same mistakes."

After their win over the Vikings, the Lions' hold on first place strengthened. A Vikings loss to the Cowboys this past Thursday doesn't hurt either.

"I don't think our team is that way," Stafford said this week. "I know our head coach isn't that way. We just move on to the next game. The next game is the biggest one because it's the next one.

"The New Orleans Saints have all of our attention at the moment."

Players got the chance this week to design custom cleats that benefit the cause of their choice.

Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr.'s cleats benefit City Year Detroit, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata's benefit the Haloti Ngata Family Foundation and tight end Eric Ebron's benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Check out their designs below:



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