NFL Game Of The Week #13: Lions at Saints

Detroit Lions(7-4) at New Orleans Saints(8-3) (Sun. Dec. 4th, 2011 @ 8:20pm(EST.)

Stars Watch:
(New Orleans): QB Drew Brees - He is on pace to break the single season passing record of 5,084 yards held by Dan Marino. Brees numbers so far this season has been outstanding. He has passed for 3,689 yards, 27 tds, 11 ints, and completed 70% of his passes. He is making the race for the 2011 NFL MVP award with QB Aaron Rodgers a close call. He will be facing a Detroit defense that is missing their best player in DT Ndamukong Suh and has a couple of starters in the secondary nursing injuries.

(Detroit): QB Matthew Stafford - The Lions this year are starting to reap the benefits from this former number one pick overall in 2009. Stafford's first two seasons in the NFL were unproductive because of a lot of games missed because of shoulder injuries. In 2011, he has shaken the injury bug so far and had put up his best numbers of his short career. He has passed for 3,119 yards, 26 tds, 13 ints, and has completed 62% percent of his passes. Stafford has shown that he can carry his team on his back when called upon. His continued improvement will only help Detroit in the future to be one of the top teams in the NFL as long as he is the starter. He will be facing a Saints defense that is not shy at sending pressure after the QB. Stafford should look for WR Calvin Johnson often in this game.

New Orleans Offense vs. Detroit Defense: New Orleans offense is the ultimate dream team if playing with them on Xbox360, Playstation3, or in reality. They have all of the ingredients you would want on an offense. The Saints offense is led by trigger man QB Drew Brees. He is having an MVP type of season. He has been one of the most accurate QB's the last few years. New Orleans is capable of scoring not only in the passing game but now in the running game. They use the 3 headed monster attack of running backs Pierre Thomas(403 yards), Darren Sproles(402 yard), and rookie Mark Ingram(420 yards). Sproles is also valuable in the passing game with (476 yards and 3tds) and returns (870 yards and 1td). WR Marques Colston at 6'4" is the big talented target playing the number one spot and is a weapon in the red zone because of the mismatches he creates with his size advantage. TE Jimmy Graham in only his second season is having a pro bowl year and may be the biggest reason this offense is difficult to defend. He is 6'6" and like Colston creates mismatches with his size and speed at the position and has 957 yards receiving with 8 tds. Final ingredient is they also can throw speed at you with WR's Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, and Lance Moore. The offensive line is equally good in pass protection as they are in run blocking. Detroit's defense already had their hands full even with star player DT Ndamukong Suh in the lineup. He will miss the game because of a two game suspension. His absence is huge because of the double teams he commands in the interior of the defense that allows the other defensive lineman to get one on one matchups. The Lions will have to create those matchups now by sending linebackers or a safety. The secondary may be without a couple of starters because of injuries. The Lions will have their hands full defensively in this game.

New Orleans Defense vs. Detroit Offense: Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams is similar to head coach Sean Payton in style of play which is very aggressive. He likes to pressure the other teams QB to get rid of the ball before he wants and mess up the timing of the routes. Williams benefits from a high scoring Saints offense that allows him to blitz often and take risks with coverage. DE Will Smith is the best outside rusher with 5.5 sacks. The telling sign of Greg Williams defense is strong safety Roman Harper leads the Saints with 6.5 sacks, showing that Williams will blitz any and everyone to get the opposing QB on the ground. The Saints should be better against the run ranking only 17th especially inside with the rotation of DT's Sedrick Ellis, Shaun Rogers, and Aubrayo Franklin. They have a good young nucleus of corner backs with Tracy Porter, Patrick Robinson, and Jabari Greer. Safety Malcom Jenkins should be a bright star for years to come. Detroit will only go as far as franchise QB Matthew Stafford will take them. He is having his best season, mainly due to avoiding the injury bug that cut his first two seasons short, throwing for 3119 yards and 26 tds. He still needs to learn to avoid the silly turnovers. WR Calvin Johnson and his physical presence is what makes this offense go. He can score from anywhere on the field and creates mismatches with his size and jumping ability. Once the Lions find balance with their running game they will become one of the elite offenses in the NFL. TE Brandon Pettigrew needs to become even more involved in the offense in the future. He has the ability to attack the seams in the middle of the defense.

Key Matchups:
Lions Def. Coordinator Gunther Cunningham (versus) Saints Head Coach/Playcaller Sean Payton:
Cunningham is an intense defensive coordinator and Detroit's defense is in the process of taking on his personality. The player who best fits Cunningham's persona and the aggressive scheme he wants to implement is former first round selection DT Ndamukong Suh. He is definitely intense and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Suh will be missed in this game because of a two game suspension for being overly aggressive last week. Cunningham will have to come up with a scheme to get pressure on Drew Brees without sacrificing coverage on the back end. Once Cunningham and the Lions get a few more talented pieces in the secondary and get Suh to tone down his emotions they will have a very good defense. Saints head coach Sean Payton is innovative and aggressive with his offensive play calling. They will come out an attack your defense's weaknesses from the jump. He is the example of what the NFL has become with the pass first mentality. The most successful offenses in the league lately are the ones where the head coach is heavily involved in the offense and play calling. These types of offenses use my motto of, "I am not waiting on you to beat me." That means they are not playing conservative were one turnover, a dropped pass, or not converting a 3rd down may cause them the game. Bottom line is can you out score us within 60 minutes.

WR Calvin Johnson (versus) New Orleans secondary: The man known as Megatron is a beast and may be the best wide receiver in the league. He has recorded for the third time in his career over 1,000 yards receiving and double digit touchdowns. He is 6'5" and 230lbs. and will be facing a New Orleans secondary that averages about 5'11" and 185lbs. Good Luck! Cornerbacks Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, and Patrick Robinson will have to grow some before the game. Safety Malcolm Jenkins has the size and plays with the physicality to matchup with Johnson on the deep ball. Where ever Johnson lines up it may be wise to have Jenkins in the vicinity at all times


Final Word: New Orleans has won three straight games and wants to continue their streak against a Detroit Lions team who has struggled in the same time span with inconsistency. The Saints are averaging over 40 points per game at home and have a 5-0 record. New Orleans head coach, Sean Payton, is the new era type of coach. That is when the head coach is offensive minded and heavily involved in his team's offensive play calling. Detroit has all of the pieces on offense to attack any defense in the league. They are led by QB Matthew Stafford who has all of the ingredients to be successful at the pro level for years to come. The guy who will hopefully be at the end of a lot of his passes is super stud WR Calvin Johnson. This duo is still learning how to dominate defenses with their immense talents, once they get to that point, barring an injury they will be hard to stop. The Lions defense will be playing without their best player DT Ndamukong Suh because of a two game suspension for stomping on an opponent last week, but their biggest concern is in the secondary where some starters may miss the game because of various injuries. Definitely not a good time to be injured when facing pass happy Drew Brees and company. Detroit will need to score a lot of points on offense and not commit turnovers. They will try defensively to force New Orleans to cough the ball up. These two teams are trying to improve their playoff positioning so this is a huge matchup.

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