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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com

Steve: Inside the SEC week ten

The #3 and #4 teams in the initial College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings get together in Oxford this weekend. The winner will stay in the thick of the SEC West race; while the loser is probably out of the playoff race.  Other than that contest there is much SEC appeal on the docket this week. 

LSU and Alabama are both idle.  Time to go Inside the SEC!

UL Monroe at Texas A&M – 11am kickoff
The Aggies had a week to digest its 59-0 shellacking at the hands of Alabama, and poor Louisiana-Monroe comes into College Station at just the right time for A&M to blow off some steam. The Warhawks aren’t nearly as potent as in recent years, and facing a fast, spread passing team like TAMU won’t end pretty for ULM.   

Florida vs. #11 Georgia (at Jacksonville, Florida) – 2:30pm kickoff
It’s been a long time since this game was considered a walkover for one of the two combatants, but the Bulldogs ought to roll here and again the following week at Kentucky, setting up one of the bigger Auburn versus Georgia games in years. The Gators still has a shot at bowl eligibility, and Will Muschamp may still have a shot to retain his job, but it won’t happen without an upset win here. 

Kentucky at Missouri – 3pm kickoff
Since Mizzou has been a rollercoaster of a ballclub this year, this just might be the Wildcats’ best chance to get a sixth victory and get bowl eligible. Kentucky played valiantly against Mississippi State and scored more points than I expected, and now they got into Missouri against a Tigers team that is terrible at home.  I’m giving this one to UK.    

#3 Auburn at #4 Ole Miss – 6pm kickoff
The only thing the Rebels have going for them at this point is that this game is in Oxford. The way they lost on the road last week to LSU, coupled with coach Hugh Freeze all but throwing Bo Wallace under the bus in postgame comments, and Ole Miss is reeling right now. The Rebs lack of a run game and inconsistent QB play cost then in Baton Rouge and I just feel that will be their undoing again against another tough Tiger team.

Old Dominion at Vanderbilt – 6pm kickoff 
If Vandy doesn’t win this game, they’ll have no chance at bowl eligibility. Their problem is that the offense can’t keep up with its defense. Old Dominion can score points but can’t stop other teams from doing the same. If the Commodores lose here, it’s likely a 2-10 season for Derek Mason in season one as head coach, and sets up a situation where he might actually have to coach for his job already next season.

Arkansas at #1 Mississippi State – 6:15pm 
State’s defense suddenly looks very average, especially in the back end, and that’s something nobody expected coming into the year. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, the Razorbacks can only effectively attack up front as they have nothing what even looks like a passing game. With the game in Starkvegas, it’s just another strike against the Hogs.  Expect a big win here for the Bulldogs. 

Tennessee at South Carolina – 6:30pm 
This won’t one could be fun to watch. Both these teams played much better than expected last week against top competition, but both came out on the losing end. Two big question for 
Tennessee here are…who is going to play quarterback, and how badly did Alabama beat up their defensive line?  If the Vols lose this game, it must win out against Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt in order to get bowl eligible.
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Steve: Sit Em or Start Em? Fantasy football, week nine


Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 
How could I have Big Ben on my sit list after last week’s historic performance?  Well, that was last week and now Pittsburg faces a Baltimore defense that has kept him in check.  Roethlisberger has only 1 TD pass in 5 of his last 6 games against the Ravens.  I’d look elsewhere for my starting QB.  

Jets RB Chris Ivory
Sure Ivory has been pretty hot of late and is really the only offensive threat on the Jets. But this week he’s going up against a sneaky good Chiefs defense.  I say sneaky because no one is talking about K.C., yet they have not allowed a rushing touchdown all year. NOTTA ONE! Added to that is this game is in Arrowhead, which is one of the best home field advantages in all of football.  

Raiders WR Andre Holmes
Sure, Holmes has been performing well of late having scored 4 TDs in his last 4 games, but the Raiders are on the road to face the Seahawks Sunday. While Seattle’s D might not be on the same level last year, they will feast on a winless Oakland club that is trotting out a rookie QB to certain doom.  

Patriots WR Brandon Lafell
Well, I have been convinced; this former LSU Tiger has developed a great chemistry with Tom Brady and hauled in all 11 of his targets last week for 124 yards and a score. He’s scored three touchdowns in the last three weeks and will be a vital part of the game plan in a shootout with Denver. The Broncos pass defense has allowed wide receivers to average 173 yards per game the last three weeks, along with four touchdowns.

Browns RB Ben Tate 
Tate has been underwhelming the past two games putting up only 68 total yards and one score. But he is still seeing the bulk of the carries and that should pay-off against the Tampa Bay. The lowly Bucs have allowed running backs to average 118 yards per game since week three and have given up five touchdowns on the ground during that time. With the Browns committed to the ground game, Tate should get back on track this week.

Giants TE Larry Donnell
Donnell started out well this year catching 4 touchdowns in the G-Men’s first 4 games, but has only catches 8 catches with no scores since. I expect he will see more targets this week though because NY faces the Colts who have allowed 17 catches, 160 yards and a TD to opposing tight ends in their last 2 games. Start this former Grambling star with confidence.

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Steve: Know Your Enemy, week nine - Carolina

My advice as your NFL stock broker is to buy shares of the Black & Gold now!  The team we saw Sunday dismantling the Packers is more of what I thought the Saints would look like this year. The question is now can they sustain that kind of play on the road this week in Carolina on Thursday night football?    

The Panthers won the NFC South last year but have struggled out the gates like every other team in the division this season.  They are 3-4-1 and haven’t earned a victory in a game since the first week of October. Surprisingly the fierce defense we usually associate with Carolina hasn’t shown up yet.  They are ranked 21st overall (28th against the run / 18th versus the pass) and are allowing 26 points per game.  Their pass rush has been mediocre, tallying 16 sacks but have a total of 14 takeaways (8 INTs / 6 fumbles recovered). 

The unit is lead by middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who has become one of the league’s premiere players in just his 3rd season in the NFL.  I love this guys motor, heart and abilities.  He leads the team with 89 tackles and has also racked up 1 sack, 4 tackles for loss, 4 passes defended and 1 forced fumble.  The Panthers have another top LB in Thomas Davis.  The 10 year vet has 53 tackles on the year along with 1 sack and 4 tackles for loss. A.J. Klein rounds out the unit on the strongside with 23 tackles and 2 forced fumbles.  

The front-four has been underachieving in 2014 as they’ve combined for only 4 sacks. Charles Johnson and Wes Horton are the defensive ends while the big bodies on the middle at defensive tackle are Colin Cole and 2013 1st round draft pick Star Lotulelei.

The secondary of the Carolina Cats singed a familiar face this offseason.  Safety Roman Harper is now with the enemy following 8 years in New Orleans.  A change of scenery has helped rejuvenate Harper a bit as he has 3 interceptions this season after totaling 7 his entire time in Black & Gold.

The Panthers other safety is another recognizable name as Thomas DeCoud signed on with Carolina this year after playing in Atlanta the previous 6 seasons.  At the cornerback spot is Antoine Cason and Josh Norman, who have combined for 3 interpcetions. 

The offense has been pretty underwhelming this year as they are rank 24th in the NFL (27th rushing / 17th passing) and average around 21 points per contest.  The passing attack being even that high is a surprise to me since quarterback Cam Newton has a whole new receiving corp to work with.  Rookie Kelvin Benjamin has shown why he’s was worthy of a 1st round draft pick though.  The 6-foot-5, 240 pound WR leads the team with 571 yards on 38 receptions and 6 TDs.  

(above – Benjamin owns Seattle’s “Legion of Boom”) 

Tight end Greg Olsen is Newton’s favorite target.  He leads the team with 42 receptions and found the end zone 5 times. Other than that, there’s really nothing much worth mentioning.  Jerricho Cotchery has reeled in 26 passes for 316 yards with no touchdowns while Jason Avant and rookie Philly Brown have 20 catches combined with 298 yards and 1 score.

The running back position has been a complete disaster for the Panthers.  Everybody and I mean EVERYBODY has been hurt or is still injured.  The top dog Jonathan Stewart missed the team’s tie in week 6 with a knee ailment, but returned to action for the next 2 contests.  He has 58 carries for just 217 yards and 1 TD.  The team’s next leading rusher is QB Cam Newton who has 214 yards and a score.  DeAngelo Williams is back though this week and has been tabbed the starter by head coach Ron Rivera.  He has appeared in just 2 games and has been dealing with an ankle injury.

On to the man who pretends to rip open his shirt thinking he’s Superman every time he scores and makes a big production when he rushes for a 1st down. Cam Newton is completing 60% of his passes for 1,643 yards and has 8 TDs vs. 4 INTs.  He is very elusive and tough to bring down but has been sacked 17 times this year.  While he is an extremely talented player, I feel you can get in his head and throw off his game.  We’ve seen plenty of “Pouty Cam” on the sidelines when things aren’t going right.
The schedule makers certainly didn’t do the Saints any favors in this one.  New Orleans played Thursday night and has to travel to Carolina now.  It’s really not fair, but there’s no crying in football.  My gut is telling me the Saints win this week, but my head is picking the Panthers.  The Black & Gold looked phenomenal on offense versus the Packers and the defense was able to get pressure and create turnovers.  But, how can you pick the Saints on a short week going on the road where they haven’t won a regular season game away from the Superdome since Nov. 21st last year at Atlanta?

I’m going to trust my gut and go Saints since they have looked good the last 2 games despite the loss in Detroit.

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Steve: Joe Morgan suspended by the Saints

Sean Payton announced after today’s practice that wide receiver Joe Morgan was placed on the reserve / suspended list.  Coach gave no further details.

Morgan’s response on twitter to the news pretty much sums it up all for Saints fans as well.
We all questioned why the speedy receiver couldn't get on the playing field and it appears there may be more than just injuries being an issue.  

Morgan had a minor run-in with the law last year when he was arrested in Jefferson Parrish and booked with drunk driving.  Injury wise he missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason but seemed on track in training camp to be a contributor in 2014.   

He appeared in just one game this year and did not have a catch.  In 2012 Morgan played in 14 games and managed 10 receptions for 379 yards and 3 TDs.  He was known as a big play guy with a ton of speed, but did have some problems with drops.  His future with the team is certainly up in the air.
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Steve: Inside the SEC week nine

The game of the week is definitely in-state as LSU hosts their traditional SEC rival Ole Miss.  The Tigers find themselves underdogs in their own house and many are wondering if the Mad Hatter has some magic saved up ready to unleash on the undefeated Rebels.  

Idle this week are Texas A&M, Georgia and Florida. Time to go inside the SEC:

UAB at Arkansas – 11am kickoff
The Blazers have improved mightily this year, especially on offense. But they are still a mediocre defensive team, and losses to Florida International and MTSU indicate there is still work to be done with this program. The Razorbacks are coming off an ugly loss to Georgia that wasn’t as close as the score made it look. UAB can put up the points, and the Hogs’ defense is prone to giving up a bunch, so Arkansas has to be careful here. 

#1 Mississippi State vs. Kentucky – 2:30pm kickoff
Boy did the Wildcats go from contender to pretender pretty quickly with an awful performance against LSU last week. Kentucky could be in store for another laugher since their main problem is a lack of defense up the middle and must face a run heavy Bulldogs team. Mississippi State probably won’t be challenged much in this game.

Vanderbilt at Missouri – 3pm kickoff
Mizzou continued its unpredictable season with a blowout win over Florida last week. This week they host a Commodores team that is in horrid shape. Missouri has scored one offensive touchdown in its last two games and if QB Matty Mauk is going to get his act together and put on a big game, this one against Vandy is his chance.

#3 Ole Miss at #24 LSU – 6:15pm kickoff
The Tigers have had trouble stopping running games this season, but the Rebels are not capable of exploiting LSU’s biggest weakness. Ole Miss has gotten to this point almost solely off its defense, some timely plays from QB Bo Wallace and a deep receiver corps. But you know what, a team that lacks a consistent running game usually doesn’t go far in the SEC. This one seems have  “upset special” writtern all over it , but I don’t think the Bayou Bengals offense stands a chance against the Rebs “landshark” defense.

South Carolina at #5 Auburn – 6:30pm kickoff 
Prior to the season, this game looked like a key contest on the conference docket. Now, it just looks like an easy win for Auburn. South Carolina’s defense has failed to show up at all this year, and new QB Dylan Thompson hasn’t been able to carry the team during hard times the way Connor Shaw was able to the last couple of years. The Gamecocks are ranked 90th in rushing defense, which by itself could be enough to derail any hopes they have of pulling this upset.  

#4 Alabama at Tennessee 
Bama has dominated this series of late, winning the last seven by an average margin of 26 points. They are coming off one of the most impressive performances of the Nick Saban era, a 59–0 victory over Texas A&M. This year’s Tide team may lack consistency but is clearly talented enough to win another national title. Tennessee has talent as well but lacks the depth and is young.  I just can’t see the Vols scoring more than 14 points in one. 
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Steve: Sit Em or Start Em? Fantasy football, week eight


Falcons QB Matt Ryan
 Ryan hasn't thrown for more than one touchdown in a game since Week 4, and the Falcons now have to take on the Lions pass rush.  Detroit is allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and the ATL’s O-line is abysmal.  Find a better option than “Matty Ice” this week.

Eagles RB LeSean McCoy 
Sure, you probably spent the 1st or 2nd overall pick on Shady, but a matchup with the Cardinals is enough to make any running back head to the bench. Arizona ranks numero uno in the NFL in rush defense and has given up just four touchdowns on the ground. Unless McCoy is implemented more in the passing game, he will have a difficult time finding any holes.

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts
Boy has this guy has been a major bust this season.  Last week he managed just 3 catches for 12 yards despite a team high 9 targets. It gets worse this week as the Jags are up against a Miami Dolphins defense that surrenders the sixth fewest points to receivers this season thanks to the strong cornerback duo of Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes. Sorry Cecil, you’re on the B-E-N-C-H!


Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater was a hot waiver wire pick-up when Matt Cassel went down and rewarded owners with a big Week 4 performance. But it’s been the pits ever since, as he's struggled mightily in two starts, combining for five interceptions and just one touchdown. So why-oh-why Steve would you recommend I start him you ask?  Because he is playing Tampa Bay and the Bucs have given up over 300 yards passing in their last three games.  They are a QB’s dream, start Teddy with confidence.

Saints RB Travaris Cadet
With Pierre Thomas expected to miss a few weeks with a shoulder injury, Cadet will become the Saints' primary pass-catcher out of the backfield. He has 15 receptions over the past three and Brees I feel utilizes his RBs more than any other quarterback in the league. Double-digit receptions are not out of the realm of possibility, especially after Cadet caught six passes Sunday in Detroit while playing just 20 snaps. 

Colts WR Hakeem Nicks
I just added this guy to my fantasy roster and if you need WR help I suggest you do the same.  With Reggie Wayne sidelined by an elbow problem, Nicks could be a sneaky-good play as Andrew Luck's No. 2 WR. The Steelers' defense has been ravaged by injuries and has been getting lit up by opposing offenses. He is a good sleeper flex play this week.
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Steve: Know Your Enemy, week eight - Green Bay

The Saints face off against another NFC North opponent this week but this time it’s at home in the Superdome and in primetime on Sunday Night Football.  Halloween isn’t till next week, but a very scary Green Bay Packers team is headed to New Orleans.  

The Pack is 5-2 on the year, has won their last 4 games and is tied with the Lions atop their division, although Detroit would have the edge since they beat Green Bay in week 3.  Surprisingly the rankings don’t dictate just how good the Packers have been.  They currently own the 25th best offense in the league and the defense comes in at #19.  That is pretty mediocre until you look at their giveaway / takeaway ratio.  Green Bay is 1st in the NFL at + 10.  They have taken the ball away 14 times on the year (10 INTs / 4 fumbles recovered) and have turned it over only 4 times.  

QB Aaron Rodgers has been phenomenal and has to be an early MVP candidate as he’s tossed 18 touchdowns on the year and just 1 interception.  Mr. Discount Double check is also very elusive and can take off with the ball if need be. I personally haven’t seen anybody else throw the ball better on the run then Rodgers...EVER.

His top target is Jordy Nelson.  The WR has 47 receptions, 712 yards and 6 TDs on the year.  The #2 guy is Randall Cobb who has found the endzone 8 times.  Rounding out the receiving corp is rookie Davante Adams, who was selected in the 2nd round out of Fresno State and 5 year veteran tight end Andrew Quarless.  Each has 2 TDs on the year.

Running the football had been a problem with the Packers until last year when they drafted Eddie Lacy.  The 5ft11 stud out of Alabama put up 1000+ yards his rookie season and scored 11 touchdowns.  This season he is averaging 4 yards per carry and has scored 4 times.  Lacy is also active in the Pack’s passing attack catching the ball 13 times for 86 yards.  

While Rodgers is the face of the offense, outside linebacker Clay Mathews Jr. is the force of the defense.  He has not been his dominating self this season though as he has managed only 16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception.  

Joining Mathews at OLB is Julius Peppers who Green Bay added via free agency.  The Saints are quite familiar with Peppers who spent his 1st 8 seasons in Carolina before going to Chicago for 4 years.In 17 games against the Black and Gold he has 5 sacks and 2 interceptions. 

At inside linebacker AJ Hawk & Jamari Lattimore have combine for 84 tackles.  Nick Perry is tied with Peppers for the teams lead in sacks with 3, while up front at defensive end Datone Jones and Mike Daniels have tallied 3.5 QB takedowns.  

In the secondary, safety Morgan Burnett actually leads the team in tackles with 58.  Rookie Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix is having a solid 1st season with 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 passes defended and a fumble recovery.  
Houma native Tramon Williams is their top cornerback.  He has 37 tackles, 1 INT and 7 passes defended.  The other CBs, Steve Shields and Casey Heyward both have a pair of interceptions on the year.  

This game is really a coin flip to me.  The Packers may be rolling along right now but playing in the Superdome ‘aint easy for opposing teams.  The Saints have won 10 straight at home while Green Bay is 2-2 on the road this year. 

New Orleans did show improvement this past week and should have won the game in Detroit, but I just can’t trust the team right now.  Drew Brees has been facing a ton of pressure which has lead to him making poor decisions with the football; plus the secondary (other than Keenan Lewis) has a ton of coverage issues. I hate to do it, but I’m picking against the Saints in the Dome.

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Steve: Inside the SEC week eight

After two consecutive big weeks in conference play things are a bit chill this Saturday. There are still some solid match-ups but no “Clash of the Titans” kind of meetings. Auburn, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State have the week off. Time to go Inside the SEC… 

Furman at South Carolina – 11am kickoff
Hmmmm…the Gamecocks were idle last week and got rested up for this monster of a test? Well, South Carolina has struggled with in-state, lower-division schools in the past.  But despite their defensive lapses this year, this game should be a relatively easy affair and set up the Gamecocks for next week’s showdown with Auburn.

#21 Texas A&M at #7 Alabama - 2:30pm kickoff
Offense has not typically been an issue during Kevin Sumlin’s tenure at A&M, but the Aggies have been slow starters in recent weeks. They’ve scored a total of 10 points in the first halves of consecutive losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Meanwhile, Bama is experiencing some puzzling offensive problems of its own. The biggest surprise in last week’s lackluster 14–13 win at Arkansas was their inability to run the football. The Crimson Tide averaged only 2 yards per attempt against a Hogs defense that allowed 6.3 yards per carry against Auburn, 4.6 against Texas Tech and 5.1 against Texas A&M. This game could very well put the Tide out of the national title picture.  

 #10 Georgia at Arkansas - 3pm kickoff
Arkansas can go one of two ways following its oh-so-close performance against Alabama. They can either retreat into a hole & sulk over yet another lost chance at an SEC victory, or push back and take on the challenge that is the Georgia defense. Unfortunately for the Hogs, the Bulldogs will find the Razorbacks’ defense a good matchup for its skill set.  The Hogs are certainly an improving football team, but this game figures to provide them with many of the same problems last week’s game against the Tide did.

Tennessee at #3 Ole Miss - 6pm kickoff
The Rebels have climbed the national rankings in recent weeks thanks to a dominating defense and an efficient offense that is limiting mistakes. Ole Miss has turned it over just once while forcing four turnovers in their last 2 games. That is a recipe for success. I will say that the The Volunteers appear on the cusp of turning the corner, but with such a young team they haven’t been able to find a way to close out a tight game yet.  Don’t bet on Tennessee getting their first conference win this week in Oxford.  

Missouri at Florida - 6pm kickoff
The Gators came close to beating LSU, but in the end just added more fuel to the fire warming Will Muschamp’s seat. Meanwhile Mizzou is still in the hunt for the SEC East title, bringing just one conference loss into this game.  I’ve got a feeling having quarterback Treon Harris back and playing at home will be enough for Florida to earn the victory against a beaten-down Missouri defense

Kentucky at LSU - 6:30pm kickoff
Besides the obvious reason that it’s LSU, I am very interested in this game. Kentucky is in second place in the SEC East division and really should be 6-0 on the year after getting screwed by the refs in their game vs. Florida. The real key to me here is how much the Tiger’s defense can limit the Wildcats’ offense. LSU should score plenty of points for a change against a Kentucky defense that needs help up the middle.
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Steve: Sit Em or Start Em? Fantasy football, week seven


Saints QB Drew Brees
I just heard gasps from the Who Dat Nation.  Well, I’m sorry but this a terrible matchup for the entire Saints offense as the Lions boast the top defense in the NFL currently.  They allow a paltry 13.7 points per contest, and lead the league in sacks with 20.  I know it’s not easy benching a top fantasy commodity like Brees, but I suggest that if you can, plug in your backup.     

Rams RB Zac Stacy
This guy has been unreliable this year and added another underwhelming performance to his resume Monday night at home versus the 49ers, gaining just 19 total yards. He’s also losing touches to rookie running back Tre Mason along with Benny Cunningham. Even if Stacy was dominating, St. Louis has a tough test against an angry Seahawks defense that is surrendering 72 rushing yards per game and has only allowed two rushing touchdowns through five games. 

49ers Defense
WARNING… this is a Peyton Manning alert!  Sure, San Fran has a top 10 defense but they head to the Rockies to take on a Broncos team that is headed by a guy about to break Brett Favre’s record for career touchdowns thrown. Most of the time in fantasy football it’s not where YOUR defense is ranked; but rather where the oppositions’ offense is.  Scour your waiver wire and see if Buffalo or Cleveland are available since they are facing weak scoring teams.  


Ravens RB Justin Forsett 
Forsett dominated last week against Tampa Bay and finished with 111 rushing yards on just 14 carries. You can trust him to rack up fantasy points again this week as his opponent is the Falcons.  Atlanta is 28th in the league against the run (141.3 rushing yards per game) and fantasy football gold for opposing running backs. 

Lions WR Golden Tate 
With Calvin Johnson dealing with a high ankle sprain, Tate becomes QB Matt Stafford’s top wide receiver.  He has been targeted 31 times in the last 3 games and has managed to gain 296 yards with 1 score.  Tate faces a Saints defense that has been abysmal away from home.  In the last 3 road games, the Fleur Di Lis D has surrendered and average of 305 yards receiving and 7 TDs.  

Cowboys TE Jason Witten 
It’s been a quiet year for Witten but he loves to show up in games against the Giants.  He has scored 4 TDs in the last 3 games against them.  Yeah, I know he has become more of a blocker in Dallas’ run based attack, but the G-Men remain a mess all around and just got torched by Philadelphia’s TEs for 118 yards and 2 scores.  I trust Witten can find pay dirt Sunday in Big D.
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Steve: Know Your Enemy, week seven - Detroit

I hope the 2-3 Saints really “recharged their batteries” during the bye week, because the rest of their schedule is brutal.   Things pick back up in Motown this Sunday afternoon for the Black & Gold and the Lions are off to a 4-2 start.  Detroit boasts the stingiest defense in the NFL right now, surrendering just 13.7 points per contest.  Their offense, however, has been struggling to find the end zone and rank in the bottom half of the league.  The Lions score on average 19.3 points per contest.  

 Detroit’s scoring woes certainly aren’t going to be helped by the fact that star receiver Calvin Johnson is not healthy.  He injured his ankle in week 3 and has tried to play through it, but completely missed last week’s game and is a big question mark this week.  

Also missing the Lions last game was running back Reggie Bush who has an ankle ailment. He has already said though that he is 100% sure that he will play this week against the team that drafted him.  While Bush is now 29 years old, Saints fans know he is still an explosive player that can still turn on the jets and make defenders look silly.  

There is another key contributor on the Lions offense that Saints fans will be familiar with and that is running back Joique Bell. He spent most of the 2011 season in New Orleans but didn’t make it to the active roster.  Now he’s pretty much the lead dog in Detroit as he’s handled the bulk of the carries.  Bell has carried the ball 66 times for 226 yards and 2 TDs.  He also has 11 receptions for 96 yards.  

Meanwhile quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 62% of his passes for 1,592 yards and has 7 TDs with 4 INTs.  Who knows how much longer he’ll be injury free though as he’s been sacked an NFL high 21 times.  Could this be the week the Saints defense finally gets their pass rush going?

Stafford’s top target this year due to Megatron’s injury has been former Seahawks WR Golden Tate.  He has hauled in 38 passes for 495 yards but has only scored once.  1st round draft pick Eric Ebron has not been a factor thus far in his rookie season as the tight end has just 10 catches for 103 yards and 1 TD.  Fellow TE Brandon Pettigrew has not contributed much either with just 5 catches for 40 yards.  

While the offense for Detroit has been unimpressive the defense will knock your socks off.  The unit leads the league in sacks with 21 and gives up only 271 yards per game.  

It all starts up front with a ton of big talent.  Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a mammoth of a player at 6ft5, 305 pounds and has the talent to back up his nasty on the field demeanor.  He has 3 sacks so far this year and has 30.5 in his 5 year career.

He isn’t the only assassin on defense though as DE George Johnson leads the Lions with 4 sacks and 2nd year stud Ziggy Ansah has 3.5. Ansah was the 5th overall pick a year ago and is a 6ft6, 278 pound wrecking ball. DT Nick Fairley also is a force by helping do the dirty work in the middle to help pave the way for others to hunt down QBs.

Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy leads the team in tackles with 58.  He also has 8 tackles for loss, 3 passes defended and 1 interception.   

My initial feeling for this game is not good for the Saints, but Detroit’s inability to protect their QB along with their top offensive weapon being banged up does give me a glimmer of hope for the Black and Gold.   This one is on the road but weather won’t be an issue as the Lions play in a dome and the Saints are more comfortable on the fast track.   

However, I just don’t think Drew Brees is going to have enough time to throw and is going to be under duress all game.  I think it will be close, but I just can’t pick New Orleans.

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