Saturday NFC Wild Card Betting: Saints host Lions in rematch from regular season

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
Saturday, 1/7/12, 8:00 PM EST, TV:  NBC
Opening Point Spread:  New Orleans -10
Current Betting Line:  New Orleans -10.5
Opening Total:  58
Current Total:  59.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Lions Saints NFC Wild Card Playoff Preview
Saints QB Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's single-season NFL passing record this year and has led his team to eight straight wins.

The first-ever matchup between a pair of 5,000-yard passers will take place in prime time on Saturday night when the Detroit Lions (10-6) visit the New Orleans Saints (13-3) in a rematch of a Week 13 matchup at the Superdome.  The third-seeded Saints (-10.5, O/U 59.5) beat the sixth-seeded Lions 31-17 in the first meeting behind 342 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Drew Brees, who led the NFL with 5,476 yards and broke Dan Marino’s single-season record in Week 16.

Detroit QB Matthew Stafford passed for more yards against New Orleans with 408, and he finished the regular season with 5,038 after throwing for 520 in a 45-41 loss at Green Bay last Sunday.  His team’s defense remains a huge concern though heading into the second meeting, especially after surrendering a Packers franchise-record 480 passing yards to backup QB Matt Flynn.  The defending Super Bowl champions rested some of their key players, including starting QB Aaron Rodgers, who could have reached the 5,000-yard mark as well.

Star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh did not play for the Lions in the first meeting due to a two-game suspension and spent most of the season underachieving and making headlines for the wrong reasons after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie.  Suh made 30 less tackles and had six less sacks in his second year, and he and his defensive teammates will need to do something to try to slow Brees down.  They have seen the total go ‘over’ in three of their last four games and gave up 27 points or more in seven of eight games following their bye week.

Brees made a late push for MVP honors and may end up tying Rodgers for the honor after leading an offense that scored 42 points or more in the last three games with the total going ‘over’ each time.  In fact, New Orleans won eight in a row both straight-up and against the spread to close out the regular season.

The only real change offensively for the Saints is that rookie running back Mark Ingram was put on injured reserve Tuesday with a sprained toe and replaced by second-year player Chris Ivory.  Ingram was their first-round draft pick after winning the 2009 Heisman Trophy while Ivory began the year on the physically unable to perform list with a sports hernia.  Ivory and star tight end Jimmy Graham were both unavailable in last year’s surprising 41-36 playoff loss at Seattle due to injuries. Graham led the team this year with 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns.

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