2020 Season Preview: Week 4 Lions vs. Saints
Drew Brees and the Saints come to Ford Field Oct. 4 for a Week 4 matchup with the Lions.
It'll feature two of the 10 best quarterbacks in the game today going head-to-head in the Lions' Matthew Stafford vs. the future Pro Football Hall of Famer in Brees.
Brees finished third in ESPN's QBR stat a year ago (71.7), while Stafford, in only eight games, finished with the sixth-highest QBR (69.6).
It could lead to an explosion of points, at least for one of the two teams.
New Orleans averaged the third-most points per game in 2019 (28.6 points). And not a lot should change with Brees and offensive weapons like receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara all returning.
That's scary news for a Detroit defense that allowed 26.4 points per contest a season ago -- the 26th-most in the league.
Matt Patricia's defense also permitted the 31st-most yards per game at 400.4 yards a contest.
More than likely, it will mean a long day for Patricia & Co. in trying to stop the Saints' potent offensive attack.
Let's take a look now at what has changed for both squads since the end of last season.
Saints (2019: 13-3; first in NFC South)
S Malcolm Jenkins (via free agency)
WR Emmanuel Sanders (via free agency)
C Cesar Ruiz (2020 first-round pick)
QB Jameis Winston (via free agency)
QB Teddy Bridgewater
RG Larry Warford
CB Eli Apple
WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Jenkins, Sanders and Ruiz each look to play significant roles for the Saints in 2020.
Jenkins, who previously played for the Saints from 2009-13, provides a solid veteran presence to the team's secondary.
Ruiz, meanwhile, has a chance to slide in right away at right guard in place of Warford.
And Sanders provides Brees with a nice No. 2 wide receiver to throw to.
As for the losses, the biggest loss -- and I wouldn't label it as huge -- was losing Teddy Bridgewater to the divisional rival Panthers in free agency.
In his place, though, the Saints acquired former Buccaneers No. 1 quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw for an NFL-leading 5,109 yards in 2019.
He should, at the very least, be an adequate backup to Brees, if he's called into duty at any point during the 2020 campaign.
Lions (2019: 3-12-1, last in NFC North)
CB Jeff Okudah (2020 first-round pick)
RB D'Andre Swift (2020 second-round pick)
LB Jamie Collins (via free agency)
S Duron Harmon (via trade)
NT Danny Shelton (via free agency)
CB Desmond Trufant (via free agency)
NT Damon "Snacks" Harrison
RT Rick Wagner
LB Devon Kennard
RG Graham Glasgow
CB Darius Slay
The Lions, based on their offseason acquisitions, have a chance to be an improved ballclub heading into 2020.
Swift provides Detroit with a solid complementary piece to incumbent No. 1 back Kerryon Johnson. And the Lions' offense should be positively impacted by it, with a more balanced attack than a year ago.
Then, on defense, via the Okudah draft pick, they've added a defensive back that has the potential of becoming an All-Pro corner one day. He's viewed as the long-term successor to Slay, who was dealt to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this offseason.
Collins, Harmon and Shelton all fill a void, too, with some doing so more than others.
Shelton is a more productive nose tackle at this point than Harrison, and Collins takes the place of Kennard, who was released earlier in the offseason.
Meanwhile, Harmon should be an effective performer at free safety as part of Patricia's defense.
Detroit general manager Bob Quinn made a concerted effort to upgrade the defense through his variety of moves.
The Lions' defense, subsequently, is bound to be better than last year, although question marks remain, especially in the pass-rush department.
What Happened Last Season
The Lions and Saints did not square off against one another.
But, if they would have, it would've likely ended up in a loss for Patricia & Co.
The two teams ended their 2019 campaigns in completely different fashions.
Without Stafford under center for its final eight games, Detroit went winless, and finished with a highly disappointing 3-12-1 mark.
Meanwhile, the Saints won six of their last eight regular season contests, and qualified for the postseason as NFC South division winners.
In the playoffs, Brees & Co. dropped their first-round contest to the Minnesota Vikings.
Big expectations loom again for the veteran quarterback's franchise entering 2020. It's Super Bowl or bust.
The Lions and their fanbase, in the meantime, would simply be happy with just a single playoff victory -- something the franchise hasn't achieved since 1991.