Detroit Lions: Which RB will have the biggest impact against the Saints?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have gotten plenty of production from Adrian Peterson through the first three games of the season, but will he lead the way Sunday against the New Orleans Saints?

Understanding that it is only a small three-game sample size, Adrian Peterson has provided the Detroit Lions offense with everything and more than anyone could have suggested.  Peterson is Detroit’s clear lead back, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, to Johnson’s 3.4 and Swift’s insignificant 2.5.

Peterson is running angry, and appears to be enjoying his stay in Detroit.  The future Hall Of Fame runner recently said he hopes to play five more seasons.  That will put Peterson at 40-years old.  Although that is very unlikely, it proves he’s happy with his production and is eager to keep punching in for work.

Entering the season, we expected offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell would be rotating Detroit’s top three running backs at nearly an equal pace.  That has not been the case for the first three weeks of the regular season.

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Peterson leads the backfield with 43 carries, Kerryon Johnson has quickly become Detroit’s preferred third-down back.  Pro Football Focus (PFF), claims Johnson is the leagues’ top pass-blocking running back.  That leaves D’Andre Swift with just eight carries through three games but leads the unit with nine receptions.

So which Detroit Lions running back will be the most productive Sunday against New Orleans?

This game will be closer than many expected initially, and the Detroit Lions may win the football game if the Saints star receiver, Michael Thomas, is unable to play.  If Thomas plays and Detroit finds themselves behind early, I expect Swift will have a significant role within the offense this week, primarily as a pass-catcher.

If Detroit falls behind, Bevell may need to go away from pounding the rock with Peterson to using much more of Johnson and Swift in the backfield.

The New Orleans Saints defense has allowed just 100 rushing yards per game, good for sixth-best in the NFL.  Last week the Saints defense held Green Bay’s Aaron Jones to just 69 rushing yards on 16 carries.  Something a bit concerning to me was the tremendous pass-catching back was only targeted four times, making just two catches totaling 17 yards.

If the Detroit Lions don’t get much production from Peterson on the ground against this great run defending defense, they will need to make getting the football to the pass-catching backs out of the backfield to serve as a supplement to the lack of rushing success.

This may be D’Andre Swift’s coming out party.

Next. Where in the world is Danny Shelton?. dark

The good news, Green Bay not only beat the Saints without Davante Adams, but Allen Lazard went for a career-high 146 yards on six receptions.  If Lazard can do that, what do you expect Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones will do?