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Posted at 07:40 PM ET, 01/07/2012

NFL Playoffs: Lions vs. Saints

The Detroit Lions return to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 as they travel to New Orleans to take on the high-flying Saints at the Superdome in Saturday’s wild-card nightcap (8 p.m. EST, NBC).

Drew Brees set a single-season passing record with 5,476 yards to lead the NFL’s most explosive offense, which rides an eight-game winning streak into the postseason.

But the Lions have plenty of offensive firepower of their own with quarterback Matthew Stafford and league-leading wide receiver Calvin Johnson (1,681 yards, 16 touchdowns).

The Stafford vs. Brees matchup is the first between 5,000-yard passers, which means ... buckle your seatbelts because this one could be a shootout.

The Saints are one of several teams in this year’s field whose prolific offenses have covered for suspect defensive units, and along with the Packers and Patriots (and Lions), they hope to prove you no longer need an elite defense to win a Super Bowl.

The Lions and Saints rank 23rd and 24th, respectively, in overall defense, but both teams have the ability to make plays on that side of the ball as well. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves to bring the blitz and will try to pressure Stafford in the pocket all night. Meantime Ndamukong Suh leads an aggressive Lions defensive front that must make Brees uncomfortable while defending against shifty tailback Darren Sproles and the rest of the Saints’ multi-faceted running attack.

Don’t expect New Orleans to take Detroit lightly with last year’s first-round upset at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks still fresh in their memory. The Lions last won a playoff game in 1991 when they beat the Cowboys before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins.

More NFL playoffs coverage from Washington Post Sports:

Ndamukong Suh: ‘I don’t plan on anybody shooting our defense out’

NFL Playoffs: Schedule and game previews

Post Sports Live: NFL wild-card weekend predictions

Darkhorses: First round has produced four of past six Super Bowl winners

By  |  07:40 PM ET, 01/07/2012

 
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