Game: Lions at Saints Sat. 8:00 PM (NBC)
Line: Saints -10.5, O/U 58.5
Saturday’s primetime Wild Card game is yet another much anticipated rematch. The Saints beat the Lions 31-17 in their Week 13 matchup. The final score of that game was a bit deceiving as the Lions had several opportunities to not only draw closer, but actually win it.
Drew Brees, as expected, was fantastic, completing 26 of 36 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns. But Matthew Stafford was extremely impressive, too. Stafford completed 31 of 44 passes for 408 yards and a touchdown to keep the Lions close. Detroit moved the ball at will against the Saints’ defense, but key mistakes and multiple dumb penalties prevented the Lions from putting more points on the board.
While much of the focus will be on the teams’ two potent offenses, it’s going to come down to which defensive unit can make big plays. New Orleans has been invincible at home, not only going 8-0, but also 8-0 ATS. New Orleans’ defense has played improved football since their bye week, limiting teams to only 18.5 ppg over their last six contests. Meanwhile, the Lions’ defense hasn’t exactly inspired much confidence since their bye. They’ve allowed 37, 35, 27, 31, 28, 27, 10 and 45 points, respectively, over their last eight games. That’s 30 PPG. And the 45 points they allowed last week at Lambeau to the Packers came at the hands of backup quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn set multiple franchise records on the way to leading his team to 45-41 win.
The Lions’ offense can hang with the Saints and they’ve recently experienced the raucous atmosphere of the Superdome which should make them better equipped to handle the hostile environment. The Lions will have Ndamukong Suh and Louis Delmas—two players they didn’t have in the team’s first meeting.
Still, after the Saints’ embarrassing and stunning Wild Card loss to Seattle last year, I think Drew Brees comes out guns blazing and takes the Lions out of the game early. The Lions will score to keep it competitive, but the game’s outcome will never really be in doubt.
There are three trends that jump out here:
Saints are 4-11 ATS as double-digit favorites under Sean Payton.
Saints are 21-10 ATS as a home favorite since 2007.
Drew Brees is 31-18 ATS off back-to-back wins.
I don’t like that first trend, but the line is begging you to take the Lions with the hook. I’m not buying it.
Saints 41, Lions 27
I’ll take the Saints for 2 units and the over for 2 units.