After over a decade of losing, the Detroit Lions are finally back in the playoffs for the first time since 1999. An era when Barry Sanders was running rampant on defenses and Charlie Batch was the main man under center. Things quickly went downhill for the Lions after Matt Millen took over as GM. Millen’s time in Detroit was filled with head scratching draft picks and disappointing results. I could dedicate an entire article to the stupidity of Matt Millen, but I’m in the business of making you money. The Lions under head coach Jim Schwartz have eased the bleeding in Detroit, as they finished with an impressive 10-6 record. If the good vibes are going to continue, they are going to need to beat the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome Saturday night (8:00EST). The Saints, like the Lions, endured years of losing before they became a winner. The Saints (13-3) will try and duplicate what they did in 2009 by winning the Super Bowl. Last season their playoff run was cut short due to a big loss against the Seahawks in Seattle. The Saints will be in the comfort of their own home in New Orleans, certainly an easier place to play in than deafening Seattle.
The Saints will have quite arguably the hottest quarterback in the NFL in their corner, Drew Brees. Brees is fresh off a season where he passed for 5, 476 yards, surpassing Dan Marino’s former record. In the last seven games, Brees topped 300 yards in every outing. Needless to say this is one high powered offense that will flourish against any defense. The Saints offense as a whole unit averages a whopping 467.1 points a game (1st) for 34.2 points a game. It goes without saying the Saints own the number 1 passing game in the NFL as well. It may come as a surprise, but the running game packs a powerful punch, too. The Saints have made it work under a trio of running backs that each brings something different to the game. Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles rack up an average of 132.9 yards on the ground per game. Not exactly household names; however, the Saints own the 6th best rushing attack in the league that compliments their vaunted passing game. The one player that is missing from that list is rookie Mark Ingram, who was recently placed on the IR. The Saints running game has looked fine without Ingram, so it isn’t too much of a concern.
The last time the Saints and Lions played on December 4th, the Saints throttled the Lions 31-17 at the Superdome in New Orleans. Drew Brees torched the Lions defense for 3 TDs on 342 yards passing. The secondary looked hapless against Brees, as the offense did what it wanted without much resistance. If you look at the Lions last week, it would seem nothing has changed with their secondary. Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn even made Brees numbers look insignificant, as Flynn posted a franchise-record 480 passing yards with 6 TDs. The Lions pass defense allows 239.4 yards a game for 22nd best in the league. Given the way the Saints offense has been playing, the Lions are going to need to put together their best performance of the season. Their only chance to hang around will be to play like they did against the Chargers on Christmas Eve. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, the Saints statistically possess an even worse pass defense, surrendering 259.8 yards a game (30th). Matthew Stafford of the Lions has the talent to take advantage of lackluster defenses. The 17 points the Lions put up against the Saints a few weeks ago doesn’t seem impressive, but Stafford still managed to pass for 408 yards. They would have had many more points if it wasn’t for personal foul after personal foul that killed drives. The Lions were also without starting running back Kevin Smith in that contest. Not only is Smith their best runner, but he is their only threat receiving out of the backfield, and best blocker.
Lions vs. Saints Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Detroit Lions +10.5
@New Orleans Saints -10.5
Over 58.5 (-110)
Under 58.5 (-110)
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Lions vs. Saints Pick:
Bombs away, let that be a hint what the pick is here. This game certainly has the potential to be the most entertaining game of Wildcard weekend. These are two powerful offenses that have the talent to put up monster numbers on the board. Their last meeting had the chance to put up much more points, but I think it will be made up Saturday night. The Lions certainly won’t be as undisciplined to take away points off the board. Also, both teams have hit their peak passing the football.
Everyone is abuzz over Drew Brees records, rightfully so, but quarterback of the Lions Matthew Stafford is red hot, too. Last week he threw for 520 yards, the fifth-most in league history. The effort was the most since Boomer Esiason passed for 522 in 1996. The first game of Saturday should be a defensive struggle between the Texans and Bengals, but if you love offense you’re going to love the Lions/Saints game Saturday night. The total is set this high for a reason.