It's hard to prognosticate what Stafford will do in his first NFL game but one thing is certain: He won't be putting up Drew Brees-like numbers. The rookie has a huge target in Calvin Johnson and a second weapon in running back Kevin Smith. It's likely the Lions will be losing big by the fourth quarter so he might fatten up his stats in the second half.
The Lions have ranked 30th or worse in rushing in the past three seasons but that should change given new coach Jim Schwartz's commitment to the run. Smith has plenty of promise: He had eight touchdowns last year and improved as the season progressed. In his six games with 20-plus rushes, he averaged 93.8 yards
Megatron should have his best year if Stafford gets some time to throw. He had 78 catches for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns in '08, and that came with the likes of Dan Orlovsky and Daunte Culpepper under center. Johnson will draw plenty of attention in this game but it's hard to believe Stafford won't look his way at least 10 times.
He has to take advantage as the Saints defense will focus on the other Johnson for every play. Bryant Johnson had an average year with the Niners last season (45 catches, 546 yards, 3 touchdowns), and prior to that was lost amid the star power of Arizona's receivers. He has a chance to make an impact on a team that needs a second receiver to emerge.
Hanson is recovering from minor knee surgery but hopes to be ready for the opener. He finished last season 21-for-22 on field-goal attempts (including 8-for-8 from 50-plus yards) and was 25-for-26 on extra-point attempts.
The team has upgraded at linebacker with five-time Pro Bowler Julian Peterson and two-time Super Bowl winner Larry Foote. The Lions are also optimistic about rookie safety Louis Delmas. But the Saints will be as tough a test as they'll face this season. Hard to believe Brees and Co. won't have their way in this game.
Here what Brees did against Detroit last season: 351 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 42-7 rout. Last year Brees threw for 5,069 yards, 34 touchdowns, and had eight 300-yard games and two 400-yard games. New Orleans led the league in yards per game (410.7) and points per game (28.9) and the Lions will get the offense off to a great start in '09.
It's all about his health. Bush has missed 10 games over the past two years and has only one 100-yard game and three 100-yard receiving games in his career. He gives you value in PPR leagues (he had 52 catches in 2008). Against the Lions, he'll have success because it looks like Thomas might not go.
He finished the 2008 by scoring in six of his final six games and his nine TDs over that span tied him for second in the league. He has a chance to be a huge fantasy player as the team's primary red zone threat from the ground. But he's recovering from a sprained right knee and is questionable to go against Detroit. Monitor his situation until kickoff.
Primed for a big year. Injured early in '08, Colston finished with 47 catches for 760 yards and five touchdowns. The year before he had 98 catches for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns and was on the cusp of Andre Johnson-Larry Fitzgerald status. Look for a monster game.
Brees says Henderson is becoming more of an everydown receiver who can play multiple receiver positions. But he's simply a deep threat in our eyes until proven otherwise. His 8.5 yards after the catch in '08 was the best of any receiver since 2000. Last year had 32 catches and only five touchdowns so proceed with caution.
Said Brees (to the New Orleans Times-Picayune) of the healthy (for the moment) tight end: "I have big goals for him. My confidence in him is huge. We just didn't get any time together last year." He had 50 catches last year in an injury-plagued season.
John Carney was signed to fill for Garrett Hartley, who will miss the first four games of the regular season because of suspension. Carney had a fantastic year with the Giants in '08 (143 points, 36 of 38 on FG) and is automatic under 40 yards and solid between 40 and 49 (5-of-7 last year).
Bush always provides a threat as a return man and the unit was upgraded with the addition of rookie cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sharper and the return of cornerback Tracy Porter from injury. All will help a unit that ranked 23rd in yards allowed per game (339.5) and 26th in points allowed per game (24.6). So will the hiring of Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.