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Stellar defensive line play , Bell/Bush combo could spell a win for the Detroit Lions

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Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions outside linebacker Ashlee Palmer (58) celebrates with outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) after a sack during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

I recently teamed up with Braden Shackelford, contributing writer of SideLion Report, to exchange several questions around the upcoming matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions. I’ve done my best to pick his brain around a few things related to this Sunday’s matchup.

1. There’s a lot to love about a team being 4-2, but the Lions have only had one game this season where they’ve produced 30+ points, and that was the season opener. Many believe the offense is ‘due’. What are your thoughts on the offensive performance thus far?

The offense hasn’t had the success its had in previous seasons because the offensive line has regressed considerably in terms of pass protection and run blocking. The other factor is the unit is constantly missing key parts. Calvin Johnson was healthy for only the first three games and Reggie Bush and Joique Bell have both missed time with injuries as well.

With that said this is a new coaching staff and a new offensive scheme so hopefully they gel sooner rather than later. They could sure use the points against the Saints, a team you can never count out.

2. What is it about the Lions’ defense that has allowed them to be a top defensive unit?

The Lions’ success on defense is undoubtedly a result of their stellar defensive line. The group that features three top 15 picks is finally producing on the field and the secondary has really thrived in Teryl Austin’s press-coverage system.

The emergence of second year corner Darius Slay has given the Lions a playmaker in the secondary that they haven’t had in some time.

3. The Lions’ defense are only giving up 197.2 yards/game passing, and 73.5 yards/game rushing. The Saints are averaging well over those figures. Which trend continues on Sunday, and why?

Kyle Orton was able to produce 300+ yards two weeks ago against the Lions so it’s reasonable to think that all-pro Drew Brees has a good chance to replicate that success. However, I think the Lions run defense will be able to contain the Saints’ ground game.

4. Not having the services of Calvin Johnson is a huge blow, but that can also be said about the Saints not having Jimmy Graham. Do you believe this even plays a factor in the game? Which player(s) do you see stepping up in Johnson’s potential absence?

Absolutely. The Saints not having Graham for Sunday really evens the playing field. It’s no secret the Saints have been a different offense without Darren Sproles and now Brees is without his best playmaker. That gives the Lions a huge edge defensively in front of a home crowd.

In terms of who will step up in Johnson’s absence, it’s been a collective effort so far. The Lions have relied heavily on Golden Tate and used a heavier dose of Bush and Bell in the passing game. The Lions have also tried to incorporate second year wide out Corey Fuller and return specialist Jeremy Ross.

5. The Saints’ road woes are documented, as they’ve lost six straight regular season road games. How do you see this game panning out? Do you think it’s an automatic win for the Lions because of the Saints’ struggles?

I hate playing a team fresh off a bye week, especially when said team has played below expectations and had to hear about it all week. The Saints may be without Graham and playing on the road but they still have Brees and he has the luxury of playing this road game in a dome.

Last time I checked he’s usually pretty good indoors. So, no I don’t think you can assume that this is an automatic win for the Lions. Also, the Lions have had a knack for laying eggs in games they are supposed to win.

Never the less I’ll predict a win for the Lions. Lions win 20-17

Be sure to keep up with SideLion Report on Twitter for all things related to the Detroit Lions! Huge thanks to Braden for your time! Enjoy the game Sunday!

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