Friday, January 6, 2012

Lions vs. Saints: What a Brees

I'm sure all of you are cringing at the title I gave this article, but you may be cringing more when you watch the Lions take on the Saints in the Superdome. Let's put it this way: this game has the potential to be uglier than Ndamukong Suh going to his kid's career day at preschool.

A lot of people were riding high on the Lions until they dropped a game to the Packer's second unit, a game that would have given them a significantly easier first round matchup. And for those who are still high on the Lions, consider these facts:

  • Since the Lions' 5-0 start, they have gone a pedestrian 5-6.
  • All ten of the Lions' wins have come against teams with a record of .500 or lower.
  • Five of their six losses have come to teams with a record above .500. The sixth loss was to the Chicago Bears when Jay Cutler was healthy.
  • In all of their wins, they have scored at least 24 points. In all of their losses (except for the Packer game last week), they've scored less than 20 points.
  • They're YOUNG!!!
All of those point towards the fact that the Lions are too young to really compete with the Saints at this level. They should use this game as a learning experience. That being said, let's look at the matchups.

The Lions pass defense gives is 22nd in the league. Drew Brees is first in passing in the league. I see where this is going...

Brees passed for 342 yards and three touchdowns when these two teams met earlier this year. He posted a QB rating of 129.6.

The Lions pass rush has mellowed out since Suh has returned. Maybe he realized he needs to calm down? Maybe he's just depressed he can't go out there and knock people's heads off? Whatever the case, that factor will make it extremely difficult on the Detroit secondary.

Add in the fact that the Saints have three explosives and different backs (Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Christopher Ivory) and it's going to be a long day for the Lions' defense.

Oh, and don't forget about Jimmy Graham. That guy is a freak.

On the other side of the ball, Matthew Stafford will get his. He has a plethora of weapons to throw to. If Calvin Johnson is taken away, he'll go to Brandon Pettigrew. If he's not there, he'll launch the ball to Nate Burleson. If Burleson is not open, Titus Young will get the target. The Saints can't stop all of those playmakers.

However, the one way that the Lions could help make the game go at their pace is running the ball. And unfortunately with Kevin Smith, I don't think they can do that well enough.

Don't get me wrong, Smith is not a bad back. But he just isn't the kind of yard churner that can help the Lions in this kind of game.

That being said, the Lions will be in a shootout. And while I think Stafford will have a spectacular game, he will feel pressured to keep up with Brees and make some mistakes. Things like that happen often to young players in the playoffs.

Any way you want to put it, this is a mismatch. The Lions are in a tough spot, but they made their bed, so now, they must lay in it. Any plans that Jim Schwartz has to stop Brees will be foiled by one of the best head coaches in the NFL, Sean Payton. See, New Orleans even has a coaching advantage too.

What you will see is a young Lions team hitting the field on the road in a hostile environment, feeling the pressure and anxiety, and getting slammed by a better opponent. All is not lost though, Lion fans. This will help the team grow as they move forward. The Lions are explosive and I can very well see them making enough improvements to compete with the Packers as soon as next year. As for the Saints, they want to win the Super Bowl. Now.

New Orleans 42, Detroit 24

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