Let’s begin with some per-drive stats.

Offense
Points per drive: NO = 2.64 (3rd), DET = 2.11 (11th) ->Adv: NO (8)
Scoring percentage: NO = 44.9% (4th), DET = 41.5% (7th) ->Adv: NO (3)
Plays per drive: NO = 6.4 (4th), DET = 6.6 (3rd) ->Adv: DET (1)
Yards per drive: NO = 37.8 (3rd), DET = 34.2 (6th) ->Adv: NO (3)
Turnover percentage: NO = 11.8% (19th), DET = 6.6% (5th) ->Adv: DET (14)

Defense
Points per drive: NO = 2.23 (26th), DET = 2.20 (25th) ->Adv: DET (1)
Scoring percentage: NO = 41.9% (28th), DET = 40.4% (24th) ->Adv: DET (4)
Plays per drive: NO = 6.1 (12th), DET = 6.7 (30th) ->Adv: NO (18)
Yards per drive: NO = 32.8 (21st), DET = 35.7 (29th) ->Adv: NO (8)
Turnover percentage: NO = 13.7% (6th), DET = 10.1% (18th) ->Adv: NO (12)

On a per-drive basis, offensively, Saints have an 8 ranking advantage in points per drive and a 3 ranking advantage in scoring percentage and yards per drive, but Detroit has a 14 ranking advantage in avoiding offensive turnovers where Detroit is 5th best and the Saints are only 19th best.  Defensively, Detroit is only very slightly better in points allowed per drive (2.20 versus 2.23) and marginally better at percentage of opponents’ drives ending in a score of some type (41.9% versus 40.4%), 28th and 24th rankings, respectively.  Where the Saints have a marked advantage is in creating turnovers.  Saints are turning over opposing offenses at a rate of 13.7% (6th best) whereas Detroit is at 10.1% (18th best).  Hard to say who has the statistical advantage here because Detroit is better at protecting the ball on offense while the Saints are better at forcing turnovers on defense.

Passing Offense
Passer rating: NO = 110.2 (3rd), DET = 99.3 (8th) ->Adv: NO (5)
Adjusted net yards per att: NO = 7.9 (4th), DET = 6.9 (8th) ->Adv: NO (4)
Sack percentage: NO = 3.8% (5th), DET = 6.0% (17th) ->Adv: NO (12)
TD:INT ratio: NO = 31:8, DET = 19:5
EXP: NO = 143.47 (4th), DET = 88.39 (10th) ->Adv: NO (6)

Passing Defense
Opponent Passer rating: NO = 93.9 (21st), DET = 106.4 (32nd) ->Adv: NO (11)
Adjusted net yards per att: NO = 7.1 (25th), DET  = 7.1 (25th) ->Adv: EVEN
Sack percentage: NO = 5.2% (19th), DET = 4.9% (25th) ->Adv: NO (6)
TD:INT ratio: NO = 17:7 , DET = 22:7
EXP: NO = -98.55 (26th), DET = -111.70 (30th), Adv: NO (4)

Both of these quarterbacks are lighting it up this year, Saints top 5, Lions top 10.  One advantage the Saints have  on offense is the sack percentage is a lot better for Brees (5th best) than Stafford (17th best).  Another advantage: Saints have 31 passing TD’s versus only 19 for Detroit.  Defensively, both pass defenses are bad, but the Saints are better than the Lions across the board (at least in the stats I looked at in this comparison).  One stat that really stands out is the Lions are 32nd in opponent passer rating with a rating of 106.4.  Drew Brees playing at home is going to have a big day, and that’s an understatement.  Expect Matt Stafford to have a big day of his own, though.  Overall, I would say the Saints have a distinctive advantage in the passing game matchup, offense versus defense, distinctive, but not huge.  Could be the highest total score of the year in this one.

Rushing Offense
Yards per game: NO = 114.6 (9th), DET = 80.8 (30th) -> Adv: NO (21)
Yards per carry: NO = 4.3 (10th), DET = 3.7 (25th) -> Adv: NO (15)
Rushing TD’s: NO = 10 (12th), DET = 4 (29th) -> Adv: NO (17)
EXP: NO = 4.94 (5th), DET = -15.78 (15th) -> Adv: NO (10)

Rushing Defense
Yards per game: NO = 99.1 (12th), DET = 102.5 (16th) -> Adv: NO (4)
Yards per carry: NO = 3.9 (9th), DET = 4.2 (17th) -> Adv: NO (8)
Rushing TD’s: NO = 13 (25th), DET = 5 (3rd) -> Adv: DET (22)
EXP: NO = 32.4 (4th), DET = 19.13 (14th) -> Adv: NO (10)

Big advantage here in the running game goes to the Saints.  Only advantage to the Lions here is a big one though: They’re not giving up many rushing TD’s, only 5 on the year (3rd), compared to 13 for the Saints (25th).  Aside from that, the Saints are way better in yards per game, yards per attempt, and EXP, and this is both offensively and defensively.

Conclusion
Per-drive numbers are fairly close, but the Saints have fairly substantial advantages in rushing and passing games on both sides of the ball, particularly in the running game.  Both teams are very, very good offensively, and very, very not-so-good defensively, so it should be a high-scoring affair.  Wouldn’t be a shocker at all if the winner scores in the 40’s and the loser hits the 30’s.

One more thing to note on these numbers is they are for the entire season, which can be a bit misleading because the Saints have improved on defense significantly over the past several games.  They’ve gotten some key players back on defense, namely Delvin Breaux, Dannel Ellerbe, and last but certainly not least, Sheldon Rankins, who had a big sack fumble against the Rams in the last game.   Saints have been particularly good on defense in the 2nd halves in recent weeks: Rams (0 points in 2nd half), Panthers (3 points in 2nd half), Broncos (15 points in 2nd half, but that was 1 TD, 2 FG’s, and a 2-point blocked PAT return), 49er’s (3 points in 2nd half), Seahawks (6 points in 2nd half on 2 FG’s), and Chiefs (6 points on 2 FG’s in 2nd half).  That’s 1 *total* TD allowed in the 2nd halves of the last 6 games, folks.

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