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Friday, 02 December 2011 18:39
Saints Should Have Snow Problem With Suh-Less Detroit Lions
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lionsThere's an old NFL saying that playoff berths are earned when the snow flies and the temperatures fall, and reputations are made and lost for players and coaches in November and December. It snowed this week in Detroit.

This Sunday, the Lions (7-4) will face off with the Saints (8-3) in NBC's Sunday Night Football at 7:20 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The game has huge playoff implications for both teams as the Saints look to extend their lead in the NFC South,  while the Lions will try to improve their current dicey wild -card prospects.

The Lions will be without defensive tackle Ndcamukong Suh, who is suspended for two weeks, and face a plethora of injuries in their secondary. Last week, the Lions had to call on wide receiver Rashied Davis to play corner, and if he has to suit up on defense against Drew Brees and his receivers, this game will get ugly fast.

Even with a healthy team, the Lions face a test that will require a flawless performance  in order to come away with a win. But after watching the Saints rack up 49 points and 577 yards of offense against the Giants (the Saints have scored 185 points in their last five games) I realized the Saints are a legitimate Super Bowl contender this season.

The Lions have one advantage over the Saints: turnovers. The Lions have forced 23 this season, compared to just 11 for the Saints.

Brees threw four touchdown passes and ran for another against the Giants to win NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the 12th time in his career.

"We've come to expect that from Drew in games like that," said wide receiver Marques Colston. "It was a big stage and he rose to the occasion, like he always does, and that was big for us."

Sunday night will have them on a big, national stage again.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford knows the five games left can define and decide the Lions' season.

"If you play well at the end of the season you have a chance to go play in the postseason and then the people are talking about you, said the former Georgia quarterback who watched the SEC title game on television on Saturday.

"Out goal is to go out there week by week, take it game by game. You can't look ahead to the schedule. We have seven wins now with five games to go. It's on us to go out and win games."

The Lions did not have a good November with a 1-2 record while the Saints were unbeaten in November.

As the December games begin, the Lions, Bears and Falcons are realistic contenders for the NFC's two wild-card spots. All three are 7-4, and the Bears and the Falcons have the tiebreaker advantage over the Lions. The Lions will have a tough time making the playoffs.

This matchup is not a good one for the Lions. There will be no snow falling in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night for the Lions to leave with a win.

Prediction: The Saints will cover the nine-point spread. Final: Saints 30-13.

 Lions running back Kevin Smith returned to practice in Thursday on a limited basis. Lions safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Chris Houston both missed practice on Friday for a third straight day. So Detroit appears to be without Suh and their two best players in the secondary. I'd argue the secondary losses are a bigger issue than the loss of Suh.

That's a recipe for disaster.

Other NFL picks: Titans +1 1/2 over Bills; Bears- 7 over Chiefs; Raiders +3 over Dolphins;  Steelers -6 1/2 over Bengals; Ravens -6 1/2 over Browns;  Jets - 3 1/2 over Redskins; Falcons  -2 1/2 over Texans; Broncos +1 over Vikings;  Rams +13 1/2 over 49ers;  Cowboys -4 1/2 over Cardinals; Packers -7 over Giants (best bet); Patriots -20 over Colts; Chargers -2 1/2 over Jaguars. Last week: 8-4.

Trivia quiz: Name the quarterback that alternated with All-American Bert Jone for LSU in 1970-72...Hornets radio color analyst Gerry Vaillancourt will host the team's daily radio show, "Sports Buzz," which will debut on Monday, Dec. 12 on the club's new flagship station, True Oldies WTMI 106.1 FM...Former LSU running back Justin Vincent has joined the Tiger Athletic Department's game operations staff...Trivia answer: Paul Lyons...

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  

 

Website: www.louisianasportstalk.com
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