Preview: Detroit Lions (0-3) vs New Orleans Saints (3-0)
Ford Field 1:00 PM EST FOX 2
(ALLEN PARK, MI) -- Just because the New Orleans Saints are 3-0 doesn't mean the Detroit Lions have no chance in this one. In fact, several factors are lining up to give the Lions more than the usual shot at getting their first win of the season.
The Saints, who came back from 20 points down against the Chicago Bears to post a 29-23 win, are heading into their second straight road game and another long trip from the Gulf Coast up to the Midwest. Regardless of what anyone says, back-to-back extended trips take its toll on a team and the Saints are likely to be hit with a case of jet lag.
Two, the Saints suffered a couple of injuries that will affect their ability to stop the run. Outside linebacker Darrin Smith is listed as day-to-day after suffering a strained right hamstring and the Saints are considering elevating rookie J.J. Jones from the practice squad to replace him. Smith was a pivotal force in the New Orleans win recording six tackles. Also, special teams captain Fred McAfee will likely not go after suffering a pulled hamstring.
Three, the Lions are likely to open the play book a little more for rookie Joey Harrington. Expect Harrington to play at a higher level than he did in nearly pulling off a comeback win against Green Bay. The Lions coaching staff was impressed with Harrington's poise and savvy down the stretch and will loosen things a bit for the rookie.
Four, look for James Stewart to make hay against the New Orleans revamped front four of Willie Whitehead, Norman Hand, Martin Chase, and Darren Howard. Gone is Joe Johnson, the former anchor of the Saints defense to Green Bay. The Bears Anthony Thomas exploited the Saints rush defense for 111 yards rushing. Stewart could notch his first 100 yard game against New Orleans.
Detroit will absolutely need to run to set up their pass. The Saints' Sammy Knight was a one-man wrecking crew with 11 tackles, a interception and a pass deflection. Still, Detroit should be able to throw against New Orleans if they don't become one-dimensional.
Former Lion David Sloan will get a chance to get revenge on his former mates. Last week, Sloan caught two balls for 33 yards including a 29-yard seam route. Finally, Hurricane Isadore could force the Saints to lose a day of game preparation. The storm is slated to hit the New Orleans area sometime today or tomorrow. The Saints are making preparations to leave for Motown a day or two early to avoid getting swamped.
How about that, the forces of nature could combine to get the Lions their first win?
PAWS FOR THOUGHT:
What's up with receiver Bill Schroeder? Schroeder warmed up and didn't seem to show any ill effects of a rib injury only to pull himself from the lineup. Several anonymous players on the Green Bay roster intimated that they couldn't wait to get their licks in on the former Packer, but didn't get their chance. It'll be interesting to see if Schroeder suits up on the return trip to Green Bay. This acquisition has really hurt Detroit. Schroeder's play was extremely poor in the loss to Miami and he hasn't played since.
While former Lion Johnnie Morton has caught five balls for 82 yards and a 16.4 average per catch, Schroeder has yet to catch a ball in a Lion uniform
Meanwhile, below is another comparison to make note of before Sunday's game:
David Sloan: 4 catches, 65 yards 0 TDS
Mikhael Ricks: 7 catches, 103 yards, 0 TDs
Receiving: Az-Zahir Hakim 24th in the NFC
Rushing: James Stewart 13th in the NFC
Passing: Mike McMahon 16th; Joey Harrington 17th
Returns: Eddie Drummond 10th; Desmond Howard 19th
Kicking: Jason Hanson 14th
Scoring: Mike McMahon 19th
Chris Claiborne: 7th in tackles