The "Big Easy" is always known for spectacular events and riveting experiences, and this Saturday night (8PM EST), the greatest of all shows will take center stage when two of the NFL's most prolific offenses square off when the New Orleans Saints host the visiting Detroit Lions.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished the 2011 season with career numbers in passing yards (5,476) and touchdowns (46).
Yes, those are actual numbers!
The Lions, however, are led by third year quarterback Matthew Stafford—a young gunslinger who is not that far behind the immortal Brees.
Working with a receiver corp. that is collectively and arguably less talented than New Orleans, Stafford racked up 5,038 and 41 touchdowns—also career numbers for the youngster.
What seems to separate these two teams is the ground game.
The Detroit Lions have had a "serviceable" ground assault all year long, but cumulatively, they are still ranked 29th in the league, whereas the Saints have enjoyed a two-prong attack option from their backfield which has been good for sixth best in the league.
Defensively, both teams are not to be taken lightly.
The Detroit Lions are deceptively prolific against the pass despite their league rank of 22nd. Supported by an aggressive secondary, not to mention a front four that is led by Ndamukong Suh, this team has the capability of wreaking havoc against any offense.
The problem, however, has been spotty play from the defense as a whole, causing the Lions offense to enter into unexpected shootouts—a situation that will not bode well for them against New Orleans.
The New Orleans Saints, however, have a few issues themselves against the passing attack being ranked 30th in the league.
If the Saints are to shutdown this Lions offense, they—similar to Atlanta—will have to rely less on their passing attack early, and more ball control.
It sounds wrong, I know, but a shootout holds more risk than a Blackjack table in any given Atlantic City casino, and in the playoffs, no one-team has time to gamble.
Since the Saints can move the ball and score at will regardless, ball control would actually work in their favor since they can easily pick and choose when to strike, so long as everything goes well.
For the Lions, it's pretty simple: jump out early on the Saints, and try your best to control their high flying offense—not an easy feat, but still attainable.
Offensively, the Lions must get outside receiver Calvin Johnson involved early and often as a way of showing the Saints they aren't afraid to attack at will.
In the end, however, I believe that it will be experience that reigns supreme here with Brees pulling out the last minute kill-strike that finally downs the upstart Lions.
Saints 41 - Lions 37