Originally posted on The Saints Nation  |  Last updated 1/6/12
It is playoff time for the New Orleans Saints as it is becoming an every year deal as this marks the third straight season the Saints have made it to the playoffs. Before I get started I wanted to point your direction to a Q&A Andrew Juge (of Saints Nation of course) did with the blog This Given Sunday. It's a blog that features the top football bloggers on the Bloguin Network, and they discuss all topics of NFL football. It really is one of the best ones out there. Andrew helped them preview the Saints-Lions matchup, and you can read the Saints-Lions Wildcard Playoff Preview Q&A here.

The Saints will welcome a familiar foe to town in the Detroit Lions as they last faced them on December 4th . With the Saints having played them in less than a month, I thought I would talk a little about how the Lions have changed since then and how the Saints can attack them in this game. The strength of this Lions team has to be the passing game on offense as Matthew Stafford has improved each year at the quarterback position. Stafford is one of the three quarterbacks to reach the five thousand yards passing plateau this season. I guess one of the main reasons the passing game is so good is the lack of running game for the Lions. It does not hurt to have all-pro Calvin Johnson as one of your wideouts but not far behind is Brandon Pettigrew who gets plenty of catches because most teams double Johnson leaving Pettigrew in those one on one matchups. The last time these two teams faced each other Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew were almost non factors in that game but I think in this upcoming game the Lions will look early and often to try to get these two going. If I had to say how the Lions will get the running game going it would be having the backs catch it out of the backfield trying to get outside maybe two to three yards at a time.

On the other side of the ball, the Lions defense will be healthy and off of suspension heading into this game. I know last game Ndamukong Suh was out and it seemed to hurt the defensive line from getting pressure on Drew Brees with just it's front four. I think this game the line will be at full strength giving the Saints' offensive line some problems as they will be able to rotate whenever someone needs a breather. You would think with all the publicity the Lions' defensive line gets they would be at the top of league at stopping the run but in fact they are twenty third, one of the areas the Saints will exploit. The other area will of course be through the air as in the last game the Lions could not stop the Saints' passing game. It did not help last week as the Lions made the Packers' backup quarterback Matt Flynn look like a all-pro as he passed for four hundred and eighty yards and six touchdowns, a Packers franchise record .

This week’s game will be a lot like the first meeting as the Saints will look to do some of the same things on both offense and defense. It is an added bonus this week with the Saints playing another home game as they have yet to lose inside the Superdome this year. Many experts have pegged the Saints as the team to beat in the playoffs but I think the Saints will have a stiff test this weekend just because the Lions have the ability to get after the passer with their front four... something the Rams had success doing in their win over the Saints. I think since that game the Saints lost to the Rams, the Saints have figured out the blocking schemes that hurt them but it doesn’t hurt to have a quarterback in Drew that can slide step pressure. I can see this game being a shootout with the Saints winning of course. Something else to leave all of the Saints faithful with is when the Saints plays a team a second time they not only win the game, they demolish the other team. Just ask the NFC South teams how they fared the second go around this season.

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