After dismantling the Detroit Lions last week the streaking New Orleans Saints will head on over to the Golden State to take on the San Francisco 49ers, but despite this being a tough matchup for both competitors, there are five really good reasons why this Saints team will defeat the 49ers in the 2012 NFL Divisional Round.
For the 49ers and their faithful, it has been nearly 10 years since this team competed in postseason play so their presence alone is a big deal, but can they advance to the 2012 NFC Championship Game?
I personally think no.
1. Records Tell Stories: The Saints broke a playoff record last week with 626 total yards, while Drew Brees' 466 yards day came in second only to Bernie Kosar who threw for 489 yards in the 1986/87 Wild Card Playoff game against the New York Jets.
In addition to his single-game performance, however, Brees is having a career-record breaking year as an individual already passing for 5,476 yards and 46 TDs during the regular season.
The Saints will take their record breaking season, and seven game streak of averaging 533 offensive yards against a San Francisco team who is first in the league against the run, and 16th against the pass, but if these continued record breaking events tell us anything, it's that this Saints team is seemingly unstoppable.
2. Too Many Weapons to Account For: The 49ers are no slouches. This is a very good team—particularly on defense—but the Saints just have too many weapons to account for in any one given play. They have three very good receivers in Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem.
In addition to their receivers they have All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham and three running backs to speak of in Chris Ivory, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas—all of which who are threatening in their own way.
I just can't see the 49ers accounting for all of these weapons for 4 solid quarters effectively, especially with the momentum that the Saints are currently riding.
3. Not Enough Firepower: The Lions were regarded as one of two teams that would be able to enter into a shootout with New Orleans and possibly win—the other team is Green Bay obviously.
But what are the 49ers supposed to do?
You can try to play keep away, but that doesn't work since the Saints seemingly score at will. You can try your best to go tit for tat, but c'mon, the 49ers aren't exactly known for their offensive prowess.
If the Saints jump out on San Fran first, the 49ers simply do not have enough weapons available to play catchup against a team that has averaged nearly 600 offensive yards over their last seven contests.
4. A Different Defense to Deal With: During the regular season, the New Orleans Saints were the third worst passing defense in the league next to New England and Green Bay, and were ranked 12th against the run.
But against the high flying Lions I saw a different team.
The Lions have no ground game to speak of. This in turn causes this team to pass more than the average team, and we all know they can do it.
Against the 30th ranked passing D, many thought the Lions would've done much better than their 380 total passing yards, but it was that suspect Saints defense who played like a whole new team—that's what I am worried about.
The Saints played with a much higher tempo last week, and played with a very aggressive streak that helped quell the Lions passing attack, and if they were able to hold Matthew Stafford and company to under 400 passing yards, think about what they will do to Alex Smith and the rest of the 49ers.
5. Experience Reigns Supreme: The Saints have already "been there and done that", so there is hardly any postseason jitters to speak of here.
The 49ers, however, are quite the opposite.
Not only is this team fairly young, they haven't been in a postseason environment since 2002/03 where they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Experience in the playoffs has a funny way of helping teams rise above even the greatest of challenges, while the lack their of, often shows its value in the faces of the defeated sitting on the sidelines.
The 49ers are a very good team, and it's great to see them back in postseason play after a very tumultuous 12 years or so, but going against a team that is already this formidable AND experienced in postseason environmental play???—the chances for the 49ers pulling out the upset are simply too low, but hey, anything is possible, right?
For a more indepth look at this game, check out our 2012 NFC Divisional Round Saints-49ers Preview.