If you’re still on the fence about who to bet for the Week 15 finale, Covers enlists the help of expert NFL bloggers to make a pitch for their favorite team. Jeremy Reisman of Lions blog Pride of Detroit, and Andrew Doyle of Saints blog Saint Nation, strap on the pads and butt heads over which team will cover the spread on Monday Night Football.
WHY THE LIONS WILL COVER
Jeremy Reisman is the managing editor of Pride of Detroit. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @PrideOfDetroit.
Matthew Stafford’s resurgence
Through the first eight weeks of the season Stafford really struggled, throwing just 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. After firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, the Lions offense has seen a small resurgence. As a result, Stafford has passed for 11 touchdowns at 2 interceptions in the past five games. His improvement has helped the Lions win three of their past five games.
New Orleans’ poor defense
Helping Stafford out will be the Saints’ pass defense, the worst in the league. New Orleans has only held three quarterbacks below a passer rating of 100 all year. Additionally, every single offense has run for at least 4.0 yards per carry against the Saints. The Lions should have no problem moving the ball down the field, even though they have struggled to do so in the past.
Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay
On defense, the Lions will try to stop Drew Brees with their two best defensive players. Ezekiel Ansah will bring the pass rush. Ansah has been having a monster year, and has even kept pace with J.J. Watt’s sack total on the year (13.5, second-most in the league). While Darius Slay, who has been a shutdown cornerback over the past two months, will do his best to make Brandin Cooks’ day uneventful.
WHY THE SAINTS WILL COVER
Andrew Doyle writes for The Saints Nation. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @SaintsNationBlg.
History under Sean Payton
The Saints tend to play their best football under Sean Payton on Monday Night Football in front of a national audience. Since 2006 they are 12-4 on Monday Night Football, including winning 9 of their last 11. Before their home loss last season against the Ravens, the Saints had a six game winning streak on MNF football at home in the Superdome. And before you mention that the Saints are not what they used to be, don’t forget big home prime time wins over the Packers in 2014 and the Falcons this year (both on Sunday night).
Drew Brees on Monday Night
In 16 starts on Monday Night Football with the Saints, Brees has thrown for 4,983 yards, with a 70 percent completion rate, 39 touchdown and 12 interceptions. An extra day to evaluate film and prepare clearly makes him even more dangerous. He averages 311 yards per game with the Saints on MNF but it’s 345.9 yards per game at home since 2009. That’s scary for a defense that’s giving up 25.8 points per game (28th in the league) in the 2015 Detroit Lions.
Improvement on defense under Dennis Allen
What’s led to the Saints recent struggles is almost entirely defense. New Orleans fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and have since promoted former Raiders head coach Dennis Allen to that position in recent weeks. Since Allen has taken over, the defense held the Texans to 24, scored their first defensive touchdown since 2011 against Carolina, and held the Bucs to 17. 17 is the lowest point total scored on this defense all season. While this unit is still clearly the pronounced weakness of the team, Allen appears to have them playing at a higher level which resulted in a big road win at Tampa last week. With the crowd behind them in prime time, look for them to build off their best play all season this past Sunday.