How’s everyone feeling? It’s been a few days now since the Lions broke their 11-game losing streak in Arizona last Sunday. Are you feeling kind of high on the team? Are you drinking the Kool-Aid again? I’m sure there’s a little bit both going on right now. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Lions are really going to test your will this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
This is a team that’s been on fire over the last few years. Sure they’re 1-2 right now, but this is a team that’s won 13 games the last two seasons in a row. On top of that, the Saints haven’t missed the playoffs since the last time the Lions were in the playoffs. Remember 2016? What a season.
Still, there are some questions and concerns about the 2020 Saints and how they’ve been playing lately. So we reached out to our pal Madeleine Hudak of Canal Street Chronicles to answer those questions. Here’s what she had to say:
1. The Saints haven’t been the juggernaut most thought they would be. What’s going wrong?
“Whew - where to start? Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas has been out for two games with a high ankle sprain. Pro Bowl tight end Jared Cook went down with injury last week. Emmanuel Sanders has struggled to learn the playbook without a preseason. The Saints were without their starting right guard to start the season, and just as he came back last game, their starting left guard is expected to miss multiple weeks with an injury. Oh, and Drew Brees is playing like a quarterback in his 40s.
That would do it.”
2. What are the team’s strengths?
“Drew Brees is still the quarterback. His ability to read opposing defenses is still among the best there’s ever been to play the game, so he can change the play at the line of scrimmage in order to best attack the defense. Even if he doesn’t have a full complement of players, he can still make the most of what he has by finding mismatches with players like Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill.”
3. What are the team’s weaknesses?
“Drew Brees is still the quarterback. His deep-ball accuracy seems to be gone, and he lacks confidence in trying to pull the trigger on deeper players. This has allowed opposing defenses to sell out for the short and underneath throws to limit yards after the catch. As good as Brees or Kamara might be, they can only do so much with a stacked box and multiple defenders that swarm a player as soon as he catches the ball.”
4. Will Michael Thomas be ready to go Sunday? How much of an impact would it have if he doesn’t play?
“I sure hope so.
The original timeline was projected to be 3-6 weeks, but Thomas openly said he wanted to beat that timeline, so seeing him back this week against the Lions is a definite possibility. Even if not fully healthy, I could see a scenario where Thomas plays limited snaps just to make opposing defenses respect his presence on the field. The mere fact that Thomas is lined up on the field helps draw attention from Kamara, Sanders, and others, so we could finally see the offense take a massive step forward in 2020 if Thomas is back out there.”
5. Who’s winning this thing?
“On paper, this is a game the Saints should win right? I’ll say New Orleans, 31-20, but know that my heart isn’t in it at all with how this team has been playing. Sean Payton recently likened this defense’s performance to that of a high school team, and he might not be too far off.”