New Orleans Saints vs. Detroit Lions: Who Will Prevail on Wild Card Weekend?

Michael NargiSenior Analyst IJanuary 5, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26:   Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints catches a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Falcons 45-16.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints will defend their perfect 8-0 home record against the Detroit Lions on Saturday. The Wild Card matchup will showcase two 5,000-yard quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees.

The two teams met at the Superdome in Week 13 this season. The Saints won 31-17 and dominated throughout the whole game. They took a 17-0 lead and led at halftime 24-7. The Lions were able to bring themselves within a touchdown at the end of the third-quarter, but Brees and the Saints quickly scored again to put the game out of reach.

The stakes might be higher this week, but the results will be the same. The Lions have been abysmal in comparison to their 5-0 start. Since the hot start, they are 5-6. They were able to get three wins in a row before being embarrassed by Green Bay in the final week of the season. 

Green Bay entered the game last week with nothing to play for and rested most of their starters. Yet they were still able to score 45 points against the Detroit defense. This included backup quarterback Matt Flynn throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns.

Detroit allowed Matt Flynn to put on a show against them. How do the Lions expect to be able to stop Drew Brees? 

Brees had a record-setting season, throwing for 5,476 yards. He also added 46 touchdowns. Brees has the ability to pick apart defenses, and he will likely do it again on Saturday. Brees is in such a groove right now, it is hard to imagine him having a bad game.

What makes it even more challenging for Detroit is that Brees is not the only exceptional player they have to worry about.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with Pierre Thomas #23 after Brees throws a nine-yard touchdown pass to running back Darren Sproles #43 and breaks the single-season passing record in the fourt
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Jimmy Graham is having a tremendous year as tight end for the Saints. Graham is a weapon because he can make incredible catches and still block and protect the quarterback when he is called to do so. Graham had 1,310 yards this year to go along with 11 touchdowns. A 100-yard game will probably be a lock for Graham in this one.

If the Lions can take Graham out of the game, however, they will be sacrificing somewhere else on the field. Brees is adept at finding the open man, so he will beat the Lions with other targets if he has to. It is going to be a battle all day for the Lions in this one. 

The Lions defense will need to play better than they have all season. Detroit has allowed the 22nd most rushing yards in league and 23rd most passing yards. 

The backfield of the Saints will play a big role as well. Darren Sproles, Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas are a three-headed monster utilized in both the rushing and passing games. The Lions will have their hands full trying to contain the Saints' offense.

Detroit will have to play their best game of the year if they want to keep things close in New Orleans. At the end of the day, though, I think the Saints simply have too many weapons against a Detroit defense that has under-performed in the second half of the season.