By Will Burchfield
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Matthew Stafford doesn’t concern himself with an opponent’s record.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Two Stars With Motor City Ties Lighting Up Entertainment World
“Anytime you play NFL football and you put the pads on on Sunday, you’re going to get the other team’s best and you better bring your own best. Win-loss goes out the window,” he said.
But he’s certainly aware of an opponent’s strengths – such as the New Orleans Saints’ high-flying offense, which the Lions will encounter on Sunday. Stafford knows the pressure is on the Lions’ offense to keep up.
“Yeah, that’s part of it. You’ve got to understand who you’re playing. Each game is going to have a different feel to it,” he said. “This is a really good offense, a talented group. Playing at their place where they’re playing really well, putting up a bunch of points. We need to make sure that we have efficient drives and we’re getting points.”
The Saints rank first in the NFL in yards per game (431.4) and second in points per game (30.4). They hung 49 on the Los Angeles Rams last week, the third time in the past seven games that New Orleans has cracked the 40-point barrier.
Per usual, the Saints have been lethal through the air. They have the NFL’s top-ranked passing attack while Drew Brees leads the league in touchdowns (30) and yards per game (326.1).
“He’s doing an awesome job,” Stafford said. “They throw it down the field a bunch. He’s making a bunch of plays. That’s the strength of their offense, him throwing the ball.”
Stafford, likewise, is the strength of the Lions’ offense. But that unit has fallen on hard times of late, having been held to 20 points or fewer in each of the last five games.READ MORE: 23rd Annual 'A Home For The Holidays At The Grove' Comes To CBS On Sunday, December 5th
“There’s too many periods of the game where we’re going three-and-out, three-and-out. We’ve got to limit those, especially against a team like New Orleans who’s going to command the football. That’s what they do on offense,” Stafford said.
The Lions’ recent struggles on offense have dropped them to 19th in the league in points per game (22.5) and 26th in yards per game (329.5). They’ve been unable to find a rhythm early in games and have had a hard time converting red-zone opportunities into points – two trends that could doom them in New Orleans.
“We’ve got to go out there and play a little bit more efficiently and try and have less three-and-out’s. When we get opportunities to put seven’s on the board, we’ve got to come away with seven,” Stafford said.
If there was ever a time for the Lions offense to snap out of a funk, it is against the porous Saints defense. New Orleans is allowing the third most points per game (27.9) and seventh most yard per game (370.5) in the league.
The Lions cashed in against the Saints last year, beating them 35-27 in Week 15 – in New Orleans, no less. Stafford completed 22 of 25 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns, one of his best games of the season.
But he knows this year’s matchup will present a new challenge.
“We have different personnel. They have different personnel. I think their defensive coordinator had only been with them for three weeks at that point,” he said. “So they’re a little bit different there too.MORE NEWS: MDHHS Updates COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance For Michigan Schools
“But anytime you can have success in a place it’s better than not having it. Obviously felt good about how we played there last time, know how big of a challenge it is to play well there, have to go out there and try to do it again.”