2009 Lions at Saints (Source: photos.nola.com)

Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints: The inside scoop

Getting “inside information” we exchanged questions with Zac Snyder, the editor of FanSided’s Detriot Lions site sidelionreport.com, to ask him some questions about the upcoming game and the team that he covers.

Zac had a few questions of his own for WDD, check them out at this link.

1) Ndamukong Suh lost his appeal, so the two-game suspension will stick. Do you think Suh was in the wrong when he stomped Packer Dietrich-Smith, and do you feel his suspension too harsh a penalty?. Is Suh really a dirty player?

Ndamukong Suh was clearly in the wrong with the Thanksgiving Day stomp. There is reason to believe he was provoked over a long period of time through the way the Packers played him but that is no excuse for doing what he did. As such, I find it hard to argue that the two game suspension is too severe. I had always defended Suh against the dirty label and while he is now clearly guilty of a dirty play I don’t think that necessarily makes him a dirty player. He plays with a physicality that some might think crosses a line but he has always kept it between the whistles before the stomp. How can true football fans complain about the protections a quarterback gets with one breath then chastise Suh for his style of play? It doesn’t make sense.

2) The Lions started the season 5-0 and looked to be 2011′s Cinderella team, but they have since lost four of their last six games and are in danger of sliding out of post season contention. What exactly has been the reason, or reasons, for this mid-season “slump”?

The competition they’ve played is significantly better. The Lions’ four losses have been to the Falcons, 49ers, Bears and Packers; all teams currently in playoff position. The Lions haven’t played their best football in those games but none have been “bad losses” according to the standings. Matthew Stafford has thrown more interceptions of late but also played his best stretch of football of the season in the final three quarters against the Panthers a few weeks ago. Inconsistent play and mistakes against good competition is what this “slump” is all about.

3) Any defense in the NFL would be concerned playing against the Saint offense on a good day. But at home the Saints offense is far better than just good, they are down right lethal. Is there anything the Lions defense has done differently this week to prepare for New Orleans, or have they put together a game-plan more specific to stopping our offense?

Honestly, the Lions have concerns at a level more basic than the game plan. Chris Houston and Brandon McDonald, the Lions’ number one and four cornerbacks, and Louis Delmas, the Lions’ best safety, have missed practice time this week. A healthy secondary is at a disadvantage against Drew Brees so Lions fans have a justified fear about what might happen against the Saints’ passing game.

4) How has the loss of running back Jahvid Best affected the Lions offense, and equally how as the addition of running back Kevin Smith done the same? Will Smith play against the Saints and are there any key injuries worth noting?

The Lions running game is actually better now than they were earlier in the season. The loss of Jahvid Best hurts more in the passing game where he can be an explosive threat with screen passes. Kevin Smith has run well and is also a capable pass catcher so he has been a good pick up. He has been in and out of practice this week but says he will play. He probably won’t get the load he would if fully healthy so expect to see some of Maurice Morris too.

5) What is your prediction for the game, and in your own words tell me what the Lions must do to come away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a win.

I really think the Lions need to win the turnover battle, probably with a margin of at least plus two, to win this game. The Lions have the offensive potential to hang with the Saints but not if they turn the ball over whereas turning over the Saints not only ends a Saints drive with zero points but likely puts the Lions offense in good field position. If both teams play a “clean” game I don’t think the Lions will be able to win. They’ll need to be mistake free and hope the Saints don’t come out as efficient as they normally look at home. Saints 30, Lions 20

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