Detroit Lions (7-4 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-6 SU, 8-3 ATS)
Week 13 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DET +4.5/NO -4.5
Over/Under Total: 53.5
The Detroit Lions come to the Superdome on Sunday to face the New Orleans Saints. Somewhat quietly, the Lions have gotten to 7-4 with a first-place lead in the NFC North. Following a 1-3 start, they have won 6 of 7 games, including a Thanksgiving Day win over the Minnesota Vikings, 16-13. Again, they fashioned a come-from-behind win and are cruising along nicely now with a long week to get ready for their trip to the Superdome to play the Saints. New Orleans got a much-needed win on Sunday, scoring a 49-21 win at home over the Rams. Though unlikely, they are still in there with a shot in the NFC South and are exceedingly dangerous for a team that is below .500.
One of the remarkable things about the Lions is how they've trailed in every game this season at some point in the fourth quarter. Most of the ones up-for-grabs, they've won. On Thanksgiving, Matthew Stafford and Company did it again, as this is a team that has been tempered this year in the heat of battle. Stafford might not be putting up the huge numbers of years past, but he's clearly in the best form of his career and has become very adroit in nicking close wins. They might not always play very well, but they usually save their best for last and that counts for a lot in this league.
The Lions have been a streaky bunch for the last two seasons. Starting with the beginning of last season, their last 27 games have gone as follows—a 1-7 stretch, a 7-2 stretch, an 0-3 stretch, followed by the 6-1 stretch they're currently on heading into this week. They've shown they can change their form on a dime, for better or worse. But they certainly look good heading into the last five games of the season. While the fact that they've trailed every game in the fourth quarter shows a lack of ability to dominate games, it shows how good they are at snagging wins. And when you're the Detroit Lions, you don't complain about how you're winning, you're just happy to be winning.
Stafford's performance has been much more efficient this season, with nearly 67% completions and a nice 18-to-5 TD/INT ratio. He's gotten a good season out of Marvin Jones in his first season in Detroit, with Golden Tate delivering more and more with passing weeks. Eric Ebron has shown development this season and is slowly becoming a top-tier tight end in terms of pass-catching. Veteran Anquan Boldin had another TD on Thanksgiving and has six on the season. They're not doing too badly for an efficiently-run offense that has little production on the ground, though RB Theo Reddick is a valuable contributor.
The Detroit defense has been getting better. At times in the first month of the season, they looked readily-exploitable. Though ranked in the middle in just about every defensive category, they have given up over 23 points just once in the last 8 games, which is usually going to be good enough. And they make timely plays left and right, For the second time this season on Thursday, Darius Slay showed a game-changing knack, with a key interception late to set up Matt Prater for the game-winner. They've scored twice on the year, can sometimes get after the passer despite injuries to their pass-rush, and they've been clutch this season.
The Saints broke a two-game losing streak and came off the long week to beat the Rams on Sunday by 28 points. They are still ultra-dangerous on offense, especially if their run game is firing. It was on Sunday, as Mark Ingram ran for 146 yards, with Tim Hightower adding 51 yards on the ground. Both also caught TD receptions. Drew Brees, who was once again over 300 yards on the day with 4 TDs and no picks, has been doing really well lately. Hightower caught his TD on a 50-yard pass from Willie Snead on a trick play. Rookie Michael Thomas has been tremendous this season and had 108 yards and two TD catches on Sunday. Seldom-used tight end Josh Hill had 74 yards through the air, while Brandon Coleman caught a TD pass. New Orleans has an offense where a lot of guys are able to thrive with some guys coming out of nowhere to produce.
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The Saints defense is not very good to put it simply. But they don't need to be. They just need to avoid being laughable and they've accomplished that at times this season. They rank toward the bottom in most pertinent defensive categories, though no team has eclipsed 25 points in the last 5 games. It took a real bizarre twist of fate for the Broncos to beat the Saints a few weeks ago when a go-ahead kick was returned for a score in game's closing seconds. Five of their six losses are by a combined 15 points, as they haven't been all that far off.
This is a tough game to call. Detroit is on a nice roll and really clicking. Their efficient aerial attack should go over pretty well against the Saints' defense. And their playmaking "D" will also have some opportunities to register some big plays. But the Saints are a dangerous bunch and on offense, should continue to find success on Sunday. I see both offenses having more than their fair share of success. Despite the big number, I'm going to go over on this one.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting over 53.5 in the Detroit vs. New Orleans game. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Lions vs. Saints game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!