For all the talk about the New Orleans Saints' high-powered offense, it's probably time to bring the Detroit Lions' aerial attack into the conversation as well.
The Saints rank second in points per game and first in passing yards per game, while the Lions rank fourth in both categories.
In easily the most anticipated game of the weekend, let's take a look at five key matchups to watch that will determine the outcome in this Saturday night track meet in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
The Saints have two solid corners in Jabari Greer (5'11") and Tracy Porter (5'11"), but with Calvin Johnson (6'5") standing six inches taller over both, he should be able to do what he's been doing all season long—dominate.
Greer and Porter will certainly get help over the top from safeties Roman Harper and Malcom Jenkins; and considering the Lions lack of elite playmakers, doubling Johnson at all times will be their best chance at slowing the Lions aerial attack down.
Advantage: Calvin Johnson
Drew Brees must have been salivating when he watched the Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn torch the Lions secondary for 480 yards and six touchdowns last weekend in Green Bay.
The Lions are going to have to depend on an excellent pass rush from their front four if they plan on having any chance at stopping Brees and all the weapons as his disposal.
Advantage: Drew Brees
When the Lions lost to the Saints 31-17 in December, one key player from Detroit's defensive front four was missing due to a two game suspension—Mr. Ndamukong Suh.
The addition of Suh will be a huge boost when going up against a Saints offensive line that is only allowing one sack for every 27 pass attempts this season.
Speaking of the Saints offensive line, Both Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans made First Team All-Pro today, the first time two guards from the same team have accomplished the feat since 1953.
Although playing indoors will help Suh, Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch get to Brees quicker while throwing off some of the Saints timing routes—it won't happen nearly enough times.
Advantage: Saints offensive line
The Saints' 12th ranked run defense will have its hands full this weekend if Kevin Smith can make it through the entire game without getting hurt—and that's a very big if.
The last time these teams met, Smith racked up 80 yards and a touchdown on 12 touches, but was unable to finish the game—exiting early in the the third quarter.
If the Lions are able to run the ball effectively, it should give quarterback Matt Stafford just enough time to let Calvin Johnson get free downfield.
Unfortunately for Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, there's probably only one or two coaches (at the most) who I would give an edge to over Sean Payton.
Jim Schwartz should be commended for doing an excellent job in getting the Lions to the postseason for the first time in 13 years (with a little help from Jay Cutler's broken right thumb).
However, when it comes to X's and O's, Sean Payton has few peers and ultimately, this is why the Saints will win on Saturday night.
Advantage: Sean Payton
Final Score: Saints 34 Lions 24