Lions Vs. Saints, 2012 NFC Wild Card: Pressure On Quarterbacks Will Be Key

It's no secret that the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints' offenses have abounding firepower, both touting 5,000-yard passers. When these two teams played in Week 13, Matthew Stafford threw for over 400 yards and Drew Brees -- the all-time leading passer for a single season -- threw for 342, with both teams racking up over 430 yards of total offense. All common sense seems to indicate that Saturday's game will not play out any differently.

That is unless the defenses can put some pressure on the quarterbacks [via ESPN]:

Brees shredded opposing defenses for a 74.0 completion percentage and an 89.9 Total QBR when facing four or fewer rushers, both best in the NFL.

The Lions used four or fewer pass rushers on 78.9 percent of their opponents’ dropbacks this season, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. In Week 13, Brees went 22-28 for 297 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Lions when Detroit sent four or fewer rushers. [...]

Stafford struggled this season when facing the extra pressure, with a 44.4 Total QBR and six interceptions against seven touchdowns.

No qualifying quarterback faced extra defensive pressure more often than Stafford this season, as he faced five or more pass rushers on 24.6 percent of his dropbacks. However, only four quarterbacks threw more interceptions in such situations than Stafford’s six.

The reason ESPN chose to use the stats that Brees accumulated when facing little to no rush is because his stats were still pretty good against the rush, so the former helps drive home ESPN's premise of the story a little better.

Stafford did well in the first match up despite getting sacked three times and hit five, so it's possible these numbers don't play out on Saturday. Either way, it'll be interesting to see how much the front fours can disrupt otherwise lethal passing games. You have to believe Ndamukong Suh, who was suspended for the regular season game, will make an impact for the Lions, but will it be enough?

For more on the Detroit Lions, check out Pride of Detroit. For more on the Saints, visit Canal Street Chronicles. You can also head over to SB Nation's main NFL hub at SBNation.com/NFL.

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