The New Orleans Saints are headed to the playoffs for the third straight season.
In the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, the Saints will play host to the Detroit Lions. This is a Lions team that is coming in after a very successful season and has been hot in the last few weeks.
They won three of their last four games and put up 28 or more points in each of those contests. The Lions can score with most teams in the NFL, and they can put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
Defensive end Cliff Avril had 11 sacks in the regular season and the man playing on the opposite side, Kyle Vanden Bosch, finished with eight sacks. Not to mention they have guys like Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairely playing in the middle of the defensive line.
This Lions team can be very dangerous, and they are sure to be hungry after their embarrassing loss to the Saints on Sunday Night Football in early December.
On the other hand, the Saints come into the playoffs as arguably the hottest team in the NFL. They have won eight straight games and broke record after record in the regular season. The league has literally never seen an offense like the one that calls New Orleans home.
This Saints team could care less about records because they are fighting for one thing and that is another Lombardi Trophy. Right now, the Lions are standing in their way of the championship.
I fully expect for the Saints to dispose of Detroit with relative ease in the first round of the playoffs. Let's take a look at four reasons why New Orleans will simply overpower Detroit.
I am sure we all remember the 31-17 stomping the Saints put on the Lions the last time they met.
This was only five weeks ago, and the Saints are actually playing better now than they were then. New Orleans has put up 40 plus points in three straight games, and defenses have shown no sign of being able to slow down Drew Brees and the Saints.
In the first matchup, the Saints racked up 438 yards and 31 points. They were able to impose their will in both the running and passing game that night. The Saints ran for 4.3 yards per carry and threw the ball 26 times for 338 yards.
The Saints were also able to limit Lions' leading receiver Calvin Johnson to just 63 yards and no touchdowns. The Lions finished the game with 379 passing yards, but most of that came because the Lions were playing catchup for the entire game.
Detroit also hurt themselves with penalties and a costly turnover. Where as the Saints were able to limit their penalties and did not turn the ball over.
The Saints are very good at not hurting themselves with dumb mistakes, and I expect nothing less Saturday against the Lions.
The Saints will not depend on the Lions messing up to win the game, but they will force them into mistakes and bad situations like in the last game. The Saints are great at bringing pressure and they will look to confuse Matthew Stafford early and often.
The Saints know how to beat the Lions, and they will do exactly that in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
At this point, everyone knows about how dominant the New Orleans Saints' offense is.
A defense cannot cover just one weapon. The Saints have numerous receivers, running backs and tight ends that can hurt the defense at any time. They even have a fullback in Jed Collins that can score when no one expects him to and follow it up with a crazy touchdown celebration.
The Saints will be coming into Saturday's game without rookie Mark Ingram, and likely without receiver Lance Moore. However, they will be fine without these two great players.
The Saints still have Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory in their skill position slots. That is seven different guys that the Lions' defense will have to worry about.
There is not a defense in the world that can cover every weapon on the Saints' offense, but especially not the one in Detroit.
The Lions are 22nd against the pass and 23rd against the run. The Saints will, of course, come into the game passing, but they also have the ability to run the ball and will do so to keep the defensive line away from Brees.
The Lions will simply not be able to matchup with the Saints players, and if they decide to focus on guy in particular, then another Saints player will hurt them.
In the first matchup, the Saints did not have to play against the dominating defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and I am sure that will be a focal point when people argue in the Lions' favor.
However, the Lions will need much more than one defensive tackle to slow down Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense.
The Saints defense does not get near enough credit.
Going into the playoffs, New Orleans is 30th against the pass and 12th against the run. They are the league's 24th ranked defense.
However, the Saints are 13th in the NFL in points allowed this year. In fact, only team in the NFC playoffs has allowed less points than the Saints in 2011.
We all say that points are the only thing that matters, correct? Well, the Saints defense steps up to the plate in that area.
The most points the Saints allowed in their eight game win streak was 24 to the New York Giants. They allowed over 21 points just twice in that streak. In 2011, the Saints only allowed three teams to score over 30 points.
This Saints defense basically shut down Calvin Johnson and the Lions' offense in the first game, but they get a bad reputation because they allowed over 400 total yards. However, when the opposing offense is doing nothing but throwing the ball for nearly three quarters, then yards are going to be racked up.
Gregg Williams did not build a defense that will keep teams to 10 points and 200 yards, but they will get after the quarterback and step up in the big moments. I expect them to do exactly that against the Lions.
The New Orleans defense may give up a lot of yards, but when it counts they force teams to field goals and punts. The Saints defense will do enough against the Lions to help New Orleans get to the second round of the playoffs.
The Saints are unbeatable at home, literally.
New Orleans finished the 2011 regular season undefeated in the Superdome. Not only did the Saints win every game in the Superdome, but they dominated in most of their home games.
The Saints average margin of victory at home was 24.5 points. Read that again, please. The Saints, on average, beat their opponents by more than three touchdowns when playing the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The fans are extremely loud and the atmosphere in New Orleans is crazy. Ask any coach, player, or broadcaster if the Superdome is loud and they may tell you that it is the loudest, especially in situations like the playoffs or national television.
The Lions have already experienced the Superdome once in 2011, and the worst part for them is that it will more than likely be twice as loud in their second visit.
The noise in the Superdome and the entire atmosphere will push the Saints to a victory, as if they needed anything else.