The NFC playoffs begin in New Orleans as the Saints will host the Lions tonight. The two teams have already met up once this season, which came in Week 13. The Saints won 31-17, in a game that saw Drew Brees dominate the Lions’ defense. Matthew Stafford threw for 408 yards, but Drew Brees just outmatched the Lions.
It should be a shootout this time around, as both quarterbacks threw for over 5,000 yards this season.
The Lions come in at 10-6, and 5-3 on the road. They finished the season 5-6 after their 5-0 start, but they comfortably secured a playoff spot. They could have been the five seed, but their defense was torched by Matt Flynn and the majority of the Packers in Week 17.
The Lions will have two options in today’s game. One will be to try and establish the run game early and control the ball. The Saints have the 12th ranked rush defense, which could make this tough. The other option is to come out firing, being very aggressive in the pass game. There is no doubt that New Orleans will score early and often, so the Lions will have to match the intensity. If Stafford can not turn the ball over, there is no reason why this game cannot come down to the wire.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions will have Ndamukong Suh, who did not play in the last meeting against the Saints. He provides a presence up front that provides pressure, but it is tough to just use pressure on Brees. He is great at getting the ball out of his hands quickly, and finding the open man. The Lions secondary will have to step up and play their best game of the year.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints come in at 13-3, and 8-0 at home. They could have been the #2 seed if they had beaten weak teams in Tampa Bay and St. Louis, but they could not. Either way, they come into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in football.
Drew Brees and the Saints are winners of eight straight, in which they have scored no less than 22 in a game, and given up no more than 24 in a game. In their last two games against Atlanta and Carolina, they outscored those two teams 90-33.
The defense of New Orleans is ranked 30th in passing, but that is partially attributed to the fact that they are taking it easy at the end of games when they have big leads. It is the same reason why the Patriots and Packers are at the bottom of the defensive rankings. As long as the defense can hold the Lions under 28 points, the offense can easily outscore them.
The Saints had a very disappointing exit last season in Seattle, but I do not see the Saints being upset once again. They are at their home stadium this time, and with the acquisition of Darren Sproles, along with the breakout season by Jimmy Graham, there is no reason why they should not win this game.
Prediction: Saints 34 | Lions 24
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
- Lions-Saints Date, Time, and TV: Saturday, January 7th at 8:00 on NBC
- Lions-Saints Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
- Lions-Saints Point Spread: Saints -10.5
- Lions-Saints Over-Under: 58.5