Well, we waited all week and the expected outcome happened. After a bit of a slow start on the scoreboard, the New Orleans Saints went wild in the second half, putting up 35 points to run the Lions out of the Superdome. The Lions took a lead into the half, but their inability to consistently tackle and their inability to convert turnovers into points cost them. Drew Brees and the Saints offense cost them as well, but a bigger Lions lead in the first half might have done enough to keep the Saints from coming back.
Whatever the case, it really doesn't matter now because the Saints won and advance to face the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round. The teams will square off at 1:30pm PT next Saturday at Candlestick Park on FOX. It will hopefully make for a much different environment than what the Saints have been able to enjoy at the Superdome. The Saints are a very solid team in general, but they are something else when they get to play indoors on the turf. They did lose to the Rams early in the season, but over the last two months they have played some really solid football.
Naturally, much of the world thinks the Saints will come into San Francisco and take care of business. At Sports Illustrated, all but one prediction was in favor of the Saints. The line for the game will be out either late tonight or early tomorrow and as I mentioned in the second game thread, I'll predict Saints as two points favorites. I could see it bumping as high as maybe four or so, but not much beyond that.
We'll have plenty of coverage heading into next Saturday's game. For now, it's safe to say there are some lessons to be learned from the Lions. The 49ers will need to get consistent heat on Brees. If he gets enough time in the pocket, he'll pick apart just about any defense. The 49ers will also need to tackle effectively. I'm not wildly concerned about that, but it is important to remember nonetheless. The Saints ran all over the Lions tonight in part because the Lions probably couldn't have tackled me at times this evening. And of course, the 49ers cannot afford to leave points on the board. They likely won't score every possession, but they can't be blowing golden scoring opportunities.
For now, we get a Sunday of unimportant football to relax and get ready for the coming week. Game on.