New Orleans Saints vs. Detroit Lions
The New Orleans Saints begin their quest to get back to the Super Bowl as they host the Detroit Lions in the NFC Playoffs Wildcard round. The Saints are -10.5 point favorites over the Lions with an over/under point total set at 58.5.
The New Orleans Saints had only one goal this season: to win the Super Bowl. While the Saints won the NFC South and Drew Brees broke one of the oldest passing records in the NFL, the Saints fell short of a first round bye or home field advantage but at the very least they are in the playoffs. Brees had a monster year by any standards completing 71.2 percent of his passes for an NFL record 5,476 yards with 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Mark Ingram is gone for the season in the backfield but New Orleans has a stable of capable backs with Pierre Thomas running between the tackles and Darren SProles who does a lot of everything rushing for 6.9 yards per carry and catching 86 passes for seven touchdowns. Brees found Jimmy Graham 99 times this season with 11 of those going for touchdowns while marquis Colston had 80 catches and eight touchdowns and Lance Moore had 52 catches and eight touchdowns. The Saints defense allows 368.4 yards and 21.2 points with just nine interceptions, 17 fumble recoveries, and 33 sacks and they have an uncharacteristic minus three turnover ratio. Roman Harper is doing it all with 96 tackles and 7.5 sacks, Macolm Jenkins has 76 tackles, and Jo-Lonn Dunbar has emerged with 79 tackles after Jon Vilma was injured much of the season. The Saints have the ability to score on every play but when they won the Super Bowl they scored a lot of defensive touchdowns and the lack of turnovers is what has been the big missing piece this year. The Saints won eight gaes in a row to close out the season
The Detroit Lions were everyone’s preseason pick to be one of the more improved teams in football and while they stumbled a little in the middle of the year they won three games before losing the season finale at Green Bay to seal their spot in the post season. It’s clear the Lions are still a team that is building and that will get better but we will find out in this one just how far along they are and just how far they have to go. Matthew Stafford stayed healthy for the first time in his NFL career throwing for 5,038 yards completing 63.5 percent of his passes with 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The running game has been by committee in Detroit but it has really been non-existent as Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris both see action. Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the NFL and he had 96 catches for 1,681 yards with 16 touchdowns, Brandon Pettigrew had 83 catches and five touchdowns, and Nate Burleson had 73 catches while Titus Young continues to emerge as a factor and a reliable target. The Lions defense allows 367.6 yards and 24.2 points while sacking opposing QB’s 41 times, recovering 17 fumbles, and grabbing 21 interceptions for a plus 11 turnover ratio. Stephen Tulloch has 111 tackles, DeAndre Levy has 109 tackles, and Cliff Avril has 11 sacks. The Lions lost less than a month ago in New Orleans when Stafford threw for over 400 yards but they managed just 17 points.
New Orleans is 7-0 against the spread following a win, 8-0 against the spread in their last eight games overall, and 11-1 against the spread in their last 12 home games. Detroit is 1-4-1 against the spread in their last six games overall, 0-5-1 against the spread in their last six games against a team with a winning record, and 0-3-1 against the spread in their last four road games.
While just 48 points were scored when these two teams met in early December the total here is set two scores higher at 58.5 and I can see it getting over that number.