The New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions are set to meet on Saturday in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs, and it will be their second meeting this season. In the first match up, despite posting nearly identical numbers on the stat sheet, the Saints bested the Lions on the scoreboard 31-17 however. SB Nation's Lions blog Pride of Detroit points out a key statistic in the reason for the Saints victory, penalties.
The Saints had 338 yards passing and 100 rushing; the Lions had 379 passing, 87 rushing. The Saints averaged 7.2 a play, Lions 6.8. The biggest difference was penalties. The Lions had 11 for 107 yards, while the Saints only had three for 30.
That big of a swing in penalties is huge, especially when penalties wind up giving teams new life on drives and handing players like quarterback Drew Brees first downs. The Lions developed a reputation this season as being a "dirty" team, taking on the torch that the Oakland Raiders used to carry in regards to penalties. If the Lions want to knock out the Saints, they'll need to limit the mental mistakes and the penalties.
Check out Canal Street Chronicles for the latest on the Saints and Pride of Detroit for the latest on the Lions, and head on over to the SBNation NFL news hub for everything you need to know about the 2012 playoffs.