Keys for a Detroit Lions Playoff Upset

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The Lions should be playing the New York Giants this weekend. I have mentioned that the team was hoodwinked out of multiple victories last season against the Bears. Well, it happened once again last weekend against the Green Bay Packers. There was a touchdown to Titus Young that was not ruled as a reception. Detroit succumbed to the Packers by four points and wound up against the Saints in New Orleans.

Jim Schwartz cannot dwell on this. The victimization of the team will not produce results on the field Saturday night. They come in as double digit underdogs to a hostile environment. Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford both do the same things well. They spread the ball around to a plethora of receivers. Due to this, they both put up points at a record setting pace. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan should simply try to outscore the Saints. There is no shame in winning the game 35-31.

Old school coaches would tell you that the other team probably won’t score if their offense isn’t on the field. That can’t be a concern on Saturday night. Time management shouldn’t even come into the thought processes unless it’s at the end of the halves.

Stefan Logan is the kick returner for Detroit. Touchbacks can’t be on the agenda against the Saints. Special teams could be the “x” factor, so he should run off all kickoffs unless they are in the last few yards of the end zone.

Special teams is the one component that is most often overlooked in the game, but it can obviously be the deciding factor. The same strategy could be utilized for punt returns. Calvin Johnson should field them during this sudden death situation. The threat of injury is not the concern that it is during the regular season because there is plenty of time to recover after the contest if Detroit loses.

Trick plays could become part of the team’s playbook. The Saints will have their hands full simply trying to contain all of the possible targets without accounting for flea flickers and fake punts. This may seem like a gimmick, but when nobody is giving you a chance, it’s a viable option. Pulling out all the stops will gain the respect of his players for Schwartz.

Defending the run is something that isn’t mentioned much with the analysis of this game. Detroit was 23rd in the NFL during regular season play. If the Saints are able to effectively run and pass, it’s a tall order for the team to compete. Ndamukong Suh hasn’t put up the statistics that he did last year, and Nick Fairley has had nagging injuries. They can atone for this with a superb effort on Saturday night.

The aforementioned defensive line must pressure Drew Brees. He broke Dan Marino’s single season passing record this season, and will continue to slice up secondaries if he has time. Various blitz packages implemented by defensive coordinator Gunther Gunningham could take him out of his comfort zone.

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