Eli Manning has people thinking about the New York Giants’ Super Bowl run after the 2007 season. Drew Brees has people thinking about the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl run two years ago. As for their opponents, well, Matt Ryan and Atlanta Falcons and Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions aren’t merely happy to just be in the NFC wild-card playoffs this weekend.
The Saints, the third seed in the conference, were 13-3 in the regular season and take an eight-game winning streak into their home game Saturday night against the sixth-seeded Detroit Lions. They’re rolling and so are the Giants, the NFC’s fourth seed. They host the fifth-seeded Falcons on Sunday afternoon.
Manning wasn’t quite on a Brees-like pace this season — Brees broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record — but he nonetheless is showing that he belongs among the game’s elites by passing for more than 4.900 yards and leading the Giants to five wins on fourth-quarter comebacks.
Ryan and the Falcons have been a playoff disappointment. Ryan has passed for only three touchdowns, with four interceptions, in two playoff appearances — both losses.
The Lions are the brash newcomers, the team that thinks it can barge into the SuperDome and stop Brees on defense. They’ve got more than a bit of a chip on their shoulders. After all, their quarterback, Matthew Stafford, is no slouch either. He passed for 5,038 yards — which means that Saturday’s game will mark the first matchup of QBs with over 5,000 yards passing.
More NFL playoffs coverage from Washington Post Sports:
NFL Playoffs: Wild-card weekend schedule, previews
Sally Jenkins: Manning is elite