Lions vs. Saints: 4 Predictions for Saturday's Wild Card Matchup
We have a regular rematch between the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints Saturday night in the Superdome.
Both teams have extremely explosive and potent offenses with weak pass defenses, so the game will be tailor-made for those who love offensive dominated football.
And here are some predictions to coincide with the expected burning of the scoreboard.
Over 850 Passing Yards Combined
Last week, Stafford threw for over 500 yards against the Packers at Green Bay, and being this late in the season, you would have thought weather conditions would have slowed the Lions.
But, that was not the case; being indoors this week should equal an increase in production.
Each quarterback is the manager of a top five passing offense; both threw for over 5,000 yards this season, combining for 87 passing touchdowns.
New Orleans' and Detroit's defenses rank No. 30 (260 per game) and No. 22 (240 per game), respectively, against the pass, so there is no hope of this game being low yards or scoring.
Additionally, neither team is exceptional at forcing turnovers and consistently getting quarterback pressure, so Brees and Stafford will have ample time in the pocket.
Each guy spreads the ball around quite well, and with their strong arms, man, zone and press coverage won't matter.
Not to mention, both quarterbacks have a solid offensive line for pass protection.
Less Than Seven Punts Attempted
The Lions averaged just over five punts per game in 2011, and the Saints averaged just over two.
But with this being such a high-scoring affair, punting will basically be obsolete.
Until the fourth quarter begins, expect each team to constantly throw the ball and fully utilize their strengths against the opposition's biggest weakness.
The punters won't have much of an effect until late as field position becomes significantly more important. As the time winds down in the final quarter, there will be more running, especially from whoever has the lead.
Mainly because of the law of averages, when backing a team up late, one has to suspect that the defense will rise to the occasion at least once or twice.
Especially with so many yards being gained, it's only a matter of time before one of the defenses steps up and makes a stop.
However, that cannot happen unless the punters change the field position.
It will be a factor since they'll come into the game rather cold. No one will think of punting until clock management becomes a major issue.
10 Players with 3 or More Receptions
In throwing so many passes this season, Stafford got four players to average at least three or more catches per game, and three averaged four or more per game.
As for Brees, five players averaged three or more receptions per game, and three of those averaged five or more catches per game.
Needless to say, both know how to dish the rock around quite well to keep the defense guessing.
Now for their Wild Card matchup, the word "wild" doesn't describe how much aerial productivity will go on. Combined between each team, seven players averaged at least three receptions per game.
Being that there is going to be over 850 passing yards altogether, a few more players will step up and contribute in a big way.
For Detroit, we know Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson will get at least three catches. Rookie receiver Titus Young will have to really become a factor.
Expect "Megatron" to receive a lot of double coverage and Pettigrew to get blanketed on occasion. Therefore, Young will receive more looks from Stafford.
On New Orleans, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles and Lance Moore will definitely snatch three passes.
But in order to keep the game in their control, Pierre Thomas and Robert Meachem will need to have solid outings.
Neither pass defense really has anyone who can consistently dominate in single coverage.
So it won't be an issue getting 10 players to three or more catches, especially since each quarterback uses the field very well—vertically and horizontally.
90 Points Combined
With all the different players being targeted, two weak defenses getting shredded and two quarterbacks airing it out all day, how could points not get scored?
Neither punter will be a factor; most points will come from outside the red zone so the opposing defense doesn't have the opportunity to tighten up.
Then again, it's also more difficult for spread offense to score in the red zone unless the quarterback is a true scrambler.
Those running the scoreboard in the Superdome may need to change the lights at some point because this game will be the most high-scoring of the weekend, and most likely the entire postseason.
New Orleans doesn't lose at home, averages over 40 points when playing in the Big Easy, and after last week's numbers, the Lions are certainly capable of keeping pace.
Green Bay not only had worse weather conditions on their side, but a more opportunistic defense, and as division rivals, they know Detroit better.
Although the Saints already beat the Lions once this season, The Motor City will be out to avenge their loss.
The Stafford-Johnson connection will be working for 60 minutes; the question is whether they can keep up with Brees.
Either way, each offense will stretch vertically and widen horizontally to keep the opposing defense off balance.
Stafford and Brees didn't throw for over 10,000 combined yards and almost 90 touchdowns without knowing how to use the field and exploit any defense.
Saints 48, Lions 42
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