|Johnson should be ready no matter who is playing QB.|
Key to game for Bengals: Get six points in the redzone and not three. Tight end Jermaine Gresham should pose missmatches on linebackers and tight ends while receivers A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson occupy space on the perimeter.
Key to game for Texans: Pound the ground game early and often with running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Success with the rushing attack will take pressure off of Yates and should open up playaction and possible big plays for Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels.
|All the Saints have to do is stick to the script.|
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
Saturday, January 7th, 2012 - Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
The Saints literally limped into the playoffs last year (six starters DNP in the Wildcard loss to the Seattle Seahawks) after coming off of a Super Bowl winning season. This year should be different for New Orleans as they head into the playoffs with the number one offense in the National Football League, in decent enough health, and riding a eight game winning streak. Drew Brees has put himself in position to pass some guys on the list of all-time great quarterbacks after breaking Dan Marino's single season passing yards mark this year, and he already has one Super Bowl victory under his belt. And with tight end Jimmy Graham (one of the six injured players that didn't play in the playoffs last year) and running back Darren Sproles playing at high levels, the Saints (13-3) look like they will cruise to the NFC Championship Game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions are no strangers to putting up big offensive numbers in the confines of a dome stadium either. Stafford started all 16 games this year for the first time in his three year career and had highs in passing yards (5,038) and touchdowns (41). Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson also had a career year with 96 catches for 1,681 yards and 16 TDs. Detroit hopes that its defense can play well enough that it doesn't have to get in a shootout. The Lions (10-6) will have the best defensive player in the game for either team Saturday in the form of nose tackle Ndamukong Suh. It might not matter though if his teammates don't help him create enough distractions to slow down Brees and a healthy Saints offense.
Pick: Saints, 38-31
Key to game for Lions: Limit mistakes. In the regular season matchup between these two teams, Detroit missed two field goals and Suh committed a personal foul at a crucial point in the game. The Lions ended up losing that game 31-17. Can't afford to give away points and yardage to New Orleans; they're just too good.
Key to game for Saints: No looking ahead. New Orleans knows its a good team and overlooking the Lions at a possible matchup with defending Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers could make for another bitter offseason.