NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It was a rare opportunity for the Saints and their fans last Sunday to relax a bit as the Saints took a 21-point lead into the fourth quarter of a one-sided victory over the Rams. It's unlikely they'll enjoy the same tranquility this Sunday against the Lions, and certain they shouldn't if they do.
The Lions have been behind in the fourth quarter of every game this season and have rallied to win seven behind Matthew Stafford, tying an NFL record for single-season comebacks. They're accustomed to playing tight games, with all 11 this season decided by seven points or less.
In Matt Prater they have one of the strongest and most clutch legs in the NFL. In an up-and-down career, he's on a high right now. Four of four beyond 50 yards. A 58-yard field goal to send their first meeting with the Vikings to overtime, and a 40-yarder to beat them as time expired on Thanksgiving, giving the Lions a sweep of the series and wresting first place in the NFC North from their rivals.
But even though the Lions lead their division, having won six of seven, and the Saints are third in theirs after breaking a two-game losing streak against the plummeting Rams, the Saints are favored.
There is mounting evidence that the Saints don't have to rely on Drew Brees' arm to win a shoot-out each week. Mark Ingram is closing in on a career year, while a healthier defense has now allowed six points or less in the second halves of five of the last six games.
And one more oddity, for what it's worth: The Lions are coming off their traditional Thanksgiving Day game. When they hit the road for their next game afterward, they have lost 22 straight.