5. All the Pressure is on the Saints
The Saints enter the game as double-digit favorites to advance to the divisional playoff round. They’ve been showered with praise for their regular-season accolades and are widely considered the only team capable of knocking off the reining Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
If the Lions can apply early pressure on the Saints through explosive offensive plays or defensive takeaways, the weight on the collective shoulders of the Saints will increase, opening the door for mistakes.
All the eyes will be on the black and gold uniforms this Saturday.
4. The Lions will be better prepared
The Lions will be facing the Saints for the second time this season and should have an idea of the tactics the Saints will use to attack them.
For the majority of the season the Lions have been caught off guard with teams altering their defensive strategy for matchups with the Lions. The Saints were no exception when the Lions traveled to Louisiana for their Week 13 matchup. In that contest, the usually aggressive Saints defense did not blitz with the same frequency as usual and went to extraordinary lengths to eliminate Calvin Johnson from the game (including lining two defenders up against him when the Lions approached the end zone).
The Lions will have a better understanding of how the Saints will attempt to defend their explosive offense and will be able to game plan accordingly.
3. Ndamukong Suh will play
Suh missed the previous contest against the Saints as he was serving the first game of his two-game suspension. The Saints do have two Pro Bowl guards but the Lions were able to generate two sacks from the interior of the defensive line in the previous meeting and had a strong showing from Nick Fairly before he left the game early after aggravating his injured foot.
Injecting Suh into the lineup will only amplify the pressure the Lions can generate from the defensive tackle position.
If the Lions can disrupt Drew Brees’ pocket while dropping seven players into coverage, they should have success on defense.
2. Louis Delmas figures to return
Delmas returned to practice last Friday and took part in team warm-ups prior to the season finale in Green Bay. Delmas has also been practicing this week and all signs point to him playing on Saturday night.
Delmas’ value to the team cannot be undervalued and his absence has left a gaping void in the secondary.
With Delmas in the lineup, the Lions allowed an average of 210.8 passing yards and one passing touchdown per game. Since his injury, the Lions have allowed an average of 337.4 passing yards and 2.8 passing touchdowns per game.
If Delmas plays – and he should – the Lions pass defense should experience immediate and palpable improvement.
The ultimate key to success for the Lions rests on the right arm of Stafford. In order for the Lions to win, Stafford will have to outduel Brees, which may not be as unrealistic as it sounds.
Dating back to the last time the two quarterbacks met in Week 13, both have been the most productive quarterbacks in the league. Stafford has completed nearly 66 percent of his passes for 1,919 yards with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. Brees has also put up video-game like numbers with 1,787 yards, 19 TDs and three picks.
On the biggest stage in his young career, Stafford will have the opportunity to prove he belongs in the same conversation as the NFL elite.
He will also have the opportunity to push the Lions into the divisional playoffs with a victory.
Can Detroit Upset New Orleans?
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