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Relationship between Lions' Matt Patricia, Saints' Sean Payton goes beyond games

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Sean Payton is the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL, having been with the New Orleans Saints for 15 years. Still, this will only be the fourth time Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia has been on the opposite sideline, coaching against one of Payton's New Orleans teams. 

But the familiarity goes far beyond those previous three matchups, all while Patricia was still in New England. 

Sean Payton has been the New Orleans Saints head coach since 2006.

"Actually when I was at Syracuse University working for Coach (Paul) Pasqualoni, Sean came up," Patricia said Friday. "He was at the Giants at the time. We went down, spent some time with them, kind of some of the trends they were doing down there with the offense. It’s interesting to remember back to all that stuff."

Beyond that, the Saints and Patriots conducted joint practices three times during Patricia's time with the franchise. And while Payton was suspended for the first in 2012, stemming from his role in the Saints bounty scandal, those practice in 2015 and 2016 provide Patricia a better understanding of this week's opponent than you might imagine. 

"Certainly the (preseason) games themselves are maybe basic, maybe vanilla, but the practices are not," Patricia said. "I would say there are a lot of things that we’ve practice against each other through the course of the years, and we probably know a lot about each other from that standpoint. That definitely is in the back of my mind, things that you’ve got to be careful of."

For what it's worth, the last time these two met in 2017, Patricia was on the winning side. It was a classic bend-don't-break performance from the Patriots defense, which allowed 429 yards and didn't force a turnover, but managed to limit the Saints to 20 points in the 36-20 victory.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers