Detroit News scouting report: Lions vs. Saints

Detroit News

Rod Beard
 
| The Detroit News

Lions vs. Saints

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox/760

Records: Lions 1-2, Saints 1-2

Line: Saints by 4½

Rod Beard of The Detroit News breaks down the Lions’ Week 4 matchup against the Saints.

Key matchup

MATTHEW STAFFORD VS. SAINTS SECONDARY

For much of the season, there’s been an increased focus on the Lions’ defensive backfield, which has been decimated by injuries. By comparison, the Saints’ pass defense has been worse, giving up 252 yards per game. It was exposed last week with a pair of deep passes from Aaron Rodgers to Allen Lazard for 72 and 48 yards.

What’s been shocking is that the defense as a whole ranks 27th in third-down efficiency, allowing opposing offenses to convert 48.8% of the time. With Kenny Golladay back and a full complement of offensive options, Stafford should be able to take advantage of that. Stafford and the Lions, though, will have to be more efficient in the red zone and convert those opportunities into touchdowns, not field goals.

The Lions will test their depth at cornerback, with Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) and Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) both ruled out Friday.

More: Lions’ ‘D’ faces toughest test yet with ‘dynamic, deceptive’ Alvin Kamara up next

Saints to watch

Alvin Kamara, RB: In last week’s home loss to the Packers, Kamara showed his versatility, with 13 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including an amazing 52-yard screen pass that featured a slew of failed tackles. With Michael Thomas out, they’ve shortened their passing game — so much so that Kamara has as many receptions (27) as carries (31) and has three touchdowns in each category.

Drew Brees, QB: After facing a trio of mobile quarterbacks in the first three games, the Lions won’t have to worry as much about Brees breaking down the field. There are also questions about Brees’ arm strength, as he hasn’t made many big throws down the field this season. The short game with Kamara has worked for them and they could stay with it. The Saints also will be without tight end Jared Cook, which will test the depth of their skill positions.

Malcolm Jenkins, S: With an injury to cornerback Marshon Lattimore — who has been limited in practice this week — Jenkins will need to pick up some of the slack in the porous pass defense. Jenkins also helps immensely in the run game, which has been stout this season, ranking sixth in the league at 100 yards allowed per game.

More: Relationship between Lions’ Patricia, Saints’ Payton goes beyond games

Facts and figures

►The Saints defense gave up 71 points in the last two games, the second-highest total in the league, but the offense kept them in both contests — a 34-24 loss to the Raiders and a 37-30 loss to the Packers. In the opener, the Buccaneers scored 23 points in New Orleans’ only win this season.

►The Saints haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 45 straight games, which includes the regular season and postseason. That’s tied for the third-longest streak in league history.

►Kamara’s six total touchdowns (three rushing and three receiving) and 438 yards from scrimmage lead the league. His 27 catches also rank second, trailing the 32 receptions by Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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