Saints vs. Lions Betting Guide: Odds & Picks For Sunday’s Game
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford
- The 1-2 New Orleans Saints look to get their season back on track when they face the 1-2 Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
- Our NFL betting analyst Raheem Palmer initially thought this would be a good buy-low game for the Saints, who are 3-point favorites, but injuries make them all but unplayable.
- Palmer analyzes both sides of this Week 4 matchup below, complete with his take on the odds and his pick on the spread.
Saints vs. Lions Odds
The New Orleans Saints opened the 2020 season as one of the favorites to make Super Bowl LII. After a 1-2 start, back-to-back losses and the noticeable decline of future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, it appears the sky is falling in the Bayou.
New Orleans looks to get its season on track Sunday when it travels to Detroit to take on the Lions, who are coming off an underdog victory against the Cardinals.
Can Brees and the Saints keep their Super Bowl hopes alive, or will the Matthew Stafford and the Lions pull off their second consecutive upset?
New Orleans Saints
The biggest issue surrounding the Saints has been Brees’ play.
With the deterioration in his arm strength, Brees is last in intended air yards (4.6) among all quarterbacks. But despite him no longer looking to throw downfield, the talk of his decline feels overblown as he’s still eighth in completion percentage (70.2), 12th in touchdown rate (5.8), ninth in quarterback rating (106.2), 10th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and has thrown just one interception.
It’s important to note that he’s been without Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas for the past two games and been working with a new receiver in Emmanuel Sanders. Unfortunately, Thomas will be missing in action again this Sunday (as will tight end Jared Cook), so Brees will have to find rapport with his other targets.
Alvin Kamara’s presence has kept the Saints offense playing at an elite level, leading the team in touchdowns (6), rushing yards (153), receptions (27) and receiving yards (285), where he ranks fifth in the league.
To put it frankly, Kamara is currently the Saints offense, and is one of the biggest reasons they’re scoring 29 points per game. New Orleans is also third in rushing success rate and get to face a Detroit defense giving up 172 yards per game on the ground and 27th in rushing success rate.
Defensively, New Orleans does have some issues. For starters, it leads the league with 17 penalties for 261 yards. Although the Saints’ run defense is still stout, ranking fifth with just 3.4 yards per attempt, they’ve struggled defending through the air.
New Orleans held Tom Brady to a rough outing in Week 1, but followed that up by allowing 120 passer ratings to both Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers. After giving up 71 points over the past two weeks, the Saints are seventh in points allowed (31.3) as well as 23rd in completion percentage (67.9) and 18th in yards per attempt (7.6) allowed.
The secondary had no answer for Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who caught 12 passes for 105 yards two weeks ago, and things won’t get any better this week facing weapons like T.J. Hockenson and Kenny Golladay. That’s partially due to the fact cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins have been ruled out with hamstring and shoulder injuries, respectively.
P.J. Williams, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Patrick Robinson are playing in the slot or at the safety, so there will be an adjustment without their top two corners.
The Lions defense played its best game of the season last week, picking off Kyler Murray three times. Although turnovers were enough to help the Lions get the win, their defense is still the weak link — they struggle to generate a pass rush and are last in pressure rate (13.8%).
Despite having a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Patricia, Detroit’s defense is 27th in run success rate and 23rd in passing success rate.
Although safety C.J. Moore is out Sunday, cornerback Desmond Trufant could return after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. If he can go, he would replace third overall pick Jeff Okudah, who’s had a rough start to his NFL career. Okudah has allowed 12 catches on 16 targets, ranking 108th out of 109 cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Given the Lions defensive struggles, Stafford and the Lions will need to move the ball through the air. Stafford is coming off his best game of the season, throwing for 270 yards, two touchdowns, a 70.97% completion percentage and a 119 quarterback rating against Arizona.
Nine different receivers caught passes last week, with Golladay, Hockenson and Jones all going for more than 50 yards.
If there’s an Achilles heel of this offense, it’s the tendency to overcommit to the run in the second half of games. The Lions are 27th in run success rate and 15th in passing success rate, yet they’ve consistently chosen to run more in the second half.
Detroit averaged 11 yards per play with a 71% passing success rate in the first half of last week’s game against Arizona. After halftime, the Lions ran the ball on 11-of-15 first downs, averaging just 1.5 yards per play. It speaks volumes that the Lions have blown 11 fourth-quarter leads during the 33 games in which Patricia has been head coach.
Initially, I thought this was a good buy-low spot for the Saints, due to the fact the Lions beat the Cardinals by just three points despite picking off Murray three times last week.
I believe Brees’ struggles are a bit overblown, but the receiving and defensive absences makes the Saints all but unplayable. The Lions are getting healthier, while the Saints are losing players on both sides of the ball.
That said, this is a good spot to back Detroit.
PICK: Lions +3