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Three to Focus on: Lions @ Saints, Wild Card Round

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Minimizing Megatron After something of a midseason lull, the combination of Matthew Stafford (+7.9 passing) and Calvin Johnson (+27.0 receiving) has been practically unstoppable to close out the regular season. Johnson, who finished the year as our top-ranked wide receiver ...

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Old 01-06-2012, 08:48 AM   #1
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Minimizing Megatron

After something of a midseason lull, the combination of Matthew Stafford (+7.9 passing) and Calvin Johnson (+27.0 receiving) has been practically unstoppable to close out the regular season. Johnson, who finished the year as our top-ranked wide receiver by a distance, picked up an astonishing 558 yards over the final three weeks of 2011 as he became a cornerbacks worst nightmare. It didnít matter if you put your top cornerback on him as the Packers tried, or if you double teamed him, Megatron was simply too much too handle. What made him all the more effective was that after a season of uneven displays, his quarterback Stafford started to cash in on the immense talent he obviously has. Gone are the performances filled with bad decisions and throws that more than balance out the good, and in is a player finding the gaps in coverage with ease to move the chains. How can the Saints stop this? Well they were able to limit Johnson to 69 yards by not letting him get behind them, forcing Stafford into a situation where 84.1% of aimed passes he attempted were less than 9 yards in the air. Can they do this again with the Stafford/Johnson combo at their peak? If they can ,itís hard to see just how the Lions can expect to beat New Orleans.



Time for Suh to Step Up?

While it seems the cool thing to be down on the play/discipline/attitude of Ndamukong Suh (+8.6 pass rushing), it does seem like people are overdoing it a bit. While Suh and his sack numbers got more credit than they warranted in his rookie year, heís not a million miles away from being the productive performer he was last year, scoring a 5.5 PRP rating in 2011 after picking up a 6.2 score in 2010 (PRP measures how much pressure a player picks up relative to how many times they rush the passer). If the Lions want to disrupt Brees, theyíre going to need their DLT to go to work on the impressive Jahri Evans (+10.6 overall) who, as good as he is, has had some problems in pass protection this year. The Saintsí right guard has given up 30 combined sacks, hits, and hurries; the third highest of all right guards. Some of this is brought on by the Saints throwing the ball so much, but itís an area that can be exploited in their playstyle. If you can pressure BreesĖparticularly up the gutĖthen his completion percentage drops from 74.9% when not pressured, to 58.3% when pressured. Suh didnít play in Week 13; can he be the difference-maker this time?



Speaking of Ö

Right now there isnít a hotter quarterback in the league than Drew Brees (+60.2 overall) who has been slicing and dicing NFL defenses as if heís going up against the scout team in practice. Itís near impossible to go toe-to-toe with him, so you need to find some way to slow him down; something much easier said that done. Weíve mentioned how his completion percentage drops when pressured, but getting pressure on him just isnít that easy. In fact, of all quarterbacks, Brees has faced the fifth-lowest percentage of pressure on his dropbacks (25.1%). The speed with which he gets rid of the ball means the Lions will need their coverage unit to step it up, but with Chris Houston being the only positively-graded starter in the secondary (+3.7), it wonít be that easy. Itís also not like theyíll be able to commit to defending the pass with the Saints capable of killing you with screens and draws. With the way heís playing right now, if Brees turns up, it may be beyond the Lions to stop them.

Three to Focus on: Lions @ Saints, Wildcard Round | ProFootballFocus.com

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