Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints Wild Card Preview
The New Orleans Saints will host the Detroit Lions in the night game on Saturday and should provide the most offense and excitement of all the wild card match ups this weekend.
The Saints, are coming in riding an 8 game winning streak and for the first time in team history, went undefeated at home.
The Lions are making their first playoff appearance since 1999 and are just three years removed from the embarrassing 0-16 season of 2008.
Chad's Keys to watch for the Saints
1. The Saints have one of, if not the most high powered offenses in the NFL. When Brees is spreading the ball around, it is virtually impossible to stop them. Brees needs to get off to a quick start and get as many of his offensive weapons involved as possible. Darren Sproles will be vital to this success as well. If the Saints can get Sproles into space early and often, look out!
2. New Orleans has a sneaky good running game. They finished the season ranked 6th in total rushing offense with an average of 132.9 yards per game on 4.9 yards per carry. Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory have both regained their forms of old and could be the key to the Saints making another Superbowl run.
3. The old cliche is "Defense wins Superbowl's" and for the Saints to win another, this defense will need to step up big time. They rank 24th in overall defense and astonishingly are 30th in pass defense. If there is an Achilles heel for the Saints this is it. A combination like Stafford to Calvin Johnson, could prove to be deadly for the Who Dat Nation.
Chad's Keys to watch for the Lions
1. The Lions have to find a rushing game if they expect to have any chance of winning. They rank 29th in the league in rushing offence and average 95.2 yards per game on 4.3 yards per carry. The loss of Jhavid Best was a much bigger blow to this team than people realize. Kevin Smith and a good start equals trouble for the Saints.
2. Matthew Stafford has everything he needs in Calvin Johnson aka "Mega-tron" but what he will need is a great effort from the supporting cast. After making a bold statement early in the year, Nate Burleson has not made the impact the Lions had hoped and needs a big game.Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is solid and the emergence of rookie Titus Young has given the passing attack speed and another vertical threat. The Lions will need to score and score a lot to keep pace. If Nate Burleson has a big game, the Saints may be in trouble.
3. Detroit, amazingly enough, ranks just ahead of New Orleans in total defense at #23 giving up 239.4 yards through the air and 128.1 on the ground. The Lions defense is also coming off an embarrassing loss to Green Bay who started back up QB Matt Flynn. If Flynn, a back up, could torch this defense for 580 yards passing and 6 TD's in the snow, what do you think Drew Brees can do to them in a dome? Detroit's defense is the single biggest key to this game. Stop Brees and the Lions will win.
CHAD'S PREDICTION: This could turn out be the highest scoring game in playoff history. Look for New Orleans to strike early and often. Detroit has done a good job of playing catch up this season but not this time. Final score: 49 - 37 Saints