Don’t Mess With the Breesus

Posted: January 5, 2012 by Kodi in NFL

New Orleans looks to bounce back after an embarrassing loss in last years playoffs

The Lions are happy to just be there for the first time since 1999

But these two explosive offenses are going to give fans a lot to watch but who will win???

It wasn’t long ago that New Orleans and Detroit were two of the worst football teams in all of the NFL, the Lions became just the 2nd team in the history of the league to not win a single game and before the acquisition of Drew Brees the Saints had made the postseason just once in the previous 13 seasons. Since Drew Brees has taken over as QB of the Saints, New Orleans has made the playoffs in 5 of the last 7 seasons and won Super Bowl XLIV. Last year the Saints were upset by Marshawn Lynch’s Beast Mode and the defending Champs were knocked out by the only playoff team that finished below .500. The Detroit Lions have not made the playoffs since 1999 and haven’t won a playoff game for 19 seasons, which is the second longest drought just a season behind Cincinnati.

The year that New Orleans brought in Drew Brees was also the year that they signed Sean Payton as their Head Coach, that was 2006. Since then the Saints have gone 62-34 and their 13-3 record this season ties their franchise record which was set in 2009 on their way to the XLIV title. Detroit is just 3 seasons removed from their 0-16 2007 season but went 10-6 recording double digit wins for the first time in over 15 seasons. After drafting QB Matt Stafford with their number 1 overall pick the Lions have spent the last few seasons tinkering with their youth movement and seems to have put it all together.

The New Orleans Saints scored 547 points this regular season, the second most in the NFL this year and they also racked up over 7474 offensive yards which was the most in the league. Once again the Saints were led by QB Drew Brees who broke a single season passing record held by former Dolphins QB Dan Marino for over 27 years. Brees was 468-657 completing over 71% of his passes racking up 5476 yards, 46 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Saints had two players with over 1100 receiving yards, WR Marques Colston and TE Jimmy Graham. Colston had 1143 yards and 8 touchdowns in just 14 games and it is the 3rd straight season that he has had at least 1000 receiving yards and 7 scores. In Graham’s 2nd year and first full season as a starter the young TE caught 99 balls for 1310 yards and 11 touchdowns.

They drafted former Alabama RB Mark Ingram in hopes of solidifying their running game but he was able to appear in just 10 games and will sit out for all of the postseason. New Orleans also signed former Charger RB Darren Sproles who rushed for over 600 yards and had over 700 receiving yards and admirably replaced Reggie Bush producing more than the former USC standout ever did in NOLA. As a team they rushed for over 2100 yards and ranked 6 in rushing yards and 7th in rushing touchdowns although they only ran the ball more than 12 other teams. The important thing is that the Saints have only fumbled the ball 7 times all year the least in the NFL and Brees’ 14 picks ranked 12th in the NFL. Not only does New Orleans rack up yards through the air they have a three headed monster at running back even with Ingram on the bench, Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory gives the Saints the versatility to force defenses to stay honest against the run.

The Detroit Lions tried to fix their rushing game and tried to do so by drafting Illinois RB Mikel LeShoure but when he went done for the season the Motor City Kitties were forced to rely on Jahvid Best once again. Best was having a decent season but due to head injuries he was only able to play in 6 games and the Lions had to rely on RB’s Maurice Morris and newly resigned RB Kevin Smith. Smith has given Detroit flashes of greatness but his knees are still as durable as a Jell-o jiggler and their running game has suffered because of it. The Lions had the 2nd least amount of rush attempts and ran for just over 1500 rushing yards which ranked 29th and their 9 rushing touchdowns ranked 23rd.

The Lions are a throwing team behind Matt Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson who had their best seasons of their young careers in 2011 on the way to postseason play. Megatron pulled in 96 catches for 1681 yards and 16 touchdowns which ranked 7th all-time in both categories. Johnson improved on his previous career highs by 18 catches, 350 yards and 4 touchdowns and averaged over 105 yards per game. Matt Stafford’s career had been extremely disappointing until this season playing in just 13 games in his prior 2 seasons. Stafford had a hand injury during this season but it didn’t slow him down and he started every game for the Lions and finished 421-663 with 5038 passing yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. After Megatron there is a huge drop-off as the Lions second leading receiver is TE Brandon Pettigrew who had 83 catches for 777 yards and just 5 touchdowns.

New Orleans defense is going to have a difficult time holding Johnson and Stafford in check especially as the Saints ranked 30th in pass defense allowing over 4100 yards ans 24 touchdowns. Over 2900 of those yards and 14 touchdowns came from opposing wide receivers and CB’s Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer will have their hands full. As bad as the Saints are at defending the pass they are ranked 12th in rush defense and will Detroit’s inability to run they may force the Lions into become one dimensional. It will make it much easier for the Saints to constantly keep a Safety over the top of Johnson if they don’t need to worry about the running game in the box.

When you hear about the Detroit Lions defense normally the first few names are their young defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley but the two combined for just 5 sacks and 35 tackles. The two players that should be brought up are DE’s Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch who had 11 and 8 sacks respectively. The Lions have also had good seasons by CB’s Chris Houston, Eric Wright and Alphonso Smith who had 12 of Detroit’s 21 picks which ranked 5th in the NFL. The Lions however ranked 22nd in both passing yards and touchdowns allowed giving up over 3800 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. Detroit also struggles to stop the run giving up over 2000 rushing yards but ranks 6th in the NFL in rushing touchdowns allowed giving up just 10. Overall the Detroit defense is a season or draft pick away and their defense may be the reason their playoff losing streak continues.

It’s hard for me to pick against New Orleans in this game because after being surprised by the Seahawks last year in Seattle I find it extremely difficult to think that they could be caught off guard at home against a team they beat earlier in the season. In that game Stafford played admirably going 31-44 for 408 yards but had just 1 touchdown pass and 1 interception and Johnson had just 6 catches for 69 yards one of his worst games of the season. Brees on the other hand had passed for 342 yards 3 touchdowns and no picks which is why they were able to leave Ford Field with a 31-17 victory. I think that Brees and the Saints will look to make another deep playoff push and this may be a high scoring affair with New Orleans moving on to the next round. I think the Saints win the game 38-31 and will move on to play the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round of the playoffs.


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