Just like that… the Detroit Lions go and completely shock you.
Somehow or another, the Lions had an answer for the Arizona Cardinals’ high-powered offense. Kyler Murray and company had success moving the ball as they totaled nearly 400 yards of offense, but shot themselves in the foot with three interceptions. It is hard to overcome so many turnovers but the Lions nearly allowed it. The outlook for Week 4 will have a largely similar tone, as there should be little optimism for a successful outcome. New Orleans is a far better team than their 1-2 record suggests (though it is worth noting that Green Bay filled up the box score against them, yet again).
DETROIT LIONS PREVIEW: OFFENSE
The Lions offense entered at full strength and left in good shape too. This is fortunate because they struggled to run the ball with consistency, averaging less than four yards per carry. They also allowed far too much pressure on Matthew Stafford, allowing four sacks and six hits on him. The Lions need to sort out their offensive line if they want any continued success.
The New Orleans defense is a decent unit that brings two very good cornerbacks and pass rushers with it. If we disregard what has happened to them the last two games, this is a unit that has the ability to shut down any team in the league. Let’s assume Marcus Davenport returns to health after missing the Green Bay game with an elbow injury; this gives New Orleans two dangerous weapons on the defensive line that the Lions are ill-equipped to handle. Sheldon Rankins brings pressure up the middle as well. Halapoulivaati Vaitai (yes, I had to Google the spelling) was absolutely dismantled by the Arizona defensive line on Sunday. Adjustments must be made to avoid this happening again or this could be a long game for the Lions offense.
DETROIT LIONS PREVIEW: DEFENSE
Déjà vu? This could get ugly. Drew Brees has noticeably regressed, struggling to drive the ball downfield, but it doesn’t seem to matter as he threw for nearly 300 yards, yet again. Michael Thomas did not play in this game, but rumor has it, he could return in Week 4. DeAndre Hopkins hung ten catches for 137 yards on the Detroit defense last week, Thomas could do the same.
The larger issue for the Lions (and the NFL in general) is Alvin Kamara. He currently leads the Saints in receiving AND rushing. Kamara’s 27 catches are second only to Hopkins and his 285 yards ranks fifth in the NFL. Oh, his six total touchdowns leads all skill players, but is also better than all but ten quarterbacks in the league.
Frankly, there just isn’t much to say about the Lions defense. They played well enough on Sunday but they don’t generate much pressure, generally don’t force turnovers (I’d argue the three picks on Sunday were largely unforced) and lack the ability to even slow down the other team’s best players. Jeff Okudah had an interception but he was out of his weight class trying to cover Hopkins. Trey Flowers is clearly a good player, but he is not an elite pass rusher. The Lions need to generate pressure through scheme and they are simply just not good at it.
Matt Patricia is not a good coach. The Lions staff, as a whole, is just not good. The coaches fail to put their players in the best spots. They fail to properly scheme to the talent on the roster. The coaches fail to capitalize on opportunities during games. They fail to properly make adjustments during games. The list is plentiful. While there may be times where the Lions might have an advantage here, this week is not one of them. Sean Payton is among the game’s best. His creativity and play calling acumen are excellent and he surrounds himself with a staff that is equally as talented.
I got last week wrong because Arizona turned the ball over so much. This one won’t be that way, New Orleans will lap the Lions on Sunday, 31-20.