The New Orleans Saints have protected the football at a historic level this season. 

New Orleans hasn't committed a turnover in the first four games of the season, becoming only the third team, along with the 1995 St. Louis Rams and 2013 Tennessee Titans, to make it through the first four without a fumble or interception.

Both of those teams turned the ball over three times in the fifth game, meaning that if the Saints can make it through Sunday's game against the Lions unscathed, they'll be alone in history. 

"It is a big emphasis," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "You still dial up the plays and play aggressive, you still take shots when you can, but also I think it’s just understanding when it’s OK to take a chance and maybe when it’s okay to just make sure the ball stays in your hands. You can’t paralyze yourself, but I think it’s just smart football."

The Saints' turnover-free streak will be tested on Sunday. Detroit has created 11 turnovers, the third-most in the NFL, and the Lions are one year removed from intercepting Brees three times in the Superdome. 

New Orleans also knows that other teams have had chances, most notably on two fumbles against Miami and a near-interception for Luke Kuechly in Carolina.

"We had a handful of times where there easily could have been a two or three turnover game, but hopefully the point of emphasis of ball security (has made an impact)," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "It is easy each week to point to the result."

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.