The first NFC match up in the Wild Card Round of the 2011/2012 playoffs finds the wild card qualifying Detroit Lions visiting the NFC South Division winners – the New Orleans Saints. Here at GuysNation some of our NFL contributors discussed our various views on this game.

Rob: The passing attacks for Detroit and New Orleans are both stout, but the strong advantage the Saints have in the running game is going to make all the difference in this game, knocking the Lions out of the playoffs.

JMB: I have to go with NO here as well, simply because they are coming into the playoffs on a huge roll, and might be playing the best football in the NFL right now.  While I think NO has a bit of an edge in the running game, I think Darren Sproles out of the backfield is the big difference here as simple dump offs for 7-8 yards can kill the motivation of that aggressive Detroit D-Line.  Give a turnover or two to an aggressive Gregg Williams defense, and the playoff run for the Lions ends.  I do think the Lions will make it closer in garbage-time, and Detroit is set-up to be a big contender for years to come, but the Saints are the team of right now.

Rob: Saying that the Saints have a BIT of an edge in the running game is a huge understatement. The Lions don’t have a single rusher with more than 50 yards in a single game over the past four weeks, and the guy who has run for the most yards in that span, Kevin Smith, has been limited in practice this week. Darren Sproles has combined (rushing & receiving) for more than 80 yards in three of those games, scored in three of those games, and there are two other guys getting it done for the Saints in each of those games. Pierre Thomas has scored in two of those games, Chris Ivory rushed for over 100 in week 17 with a touchdown run added in there.

Furthermore, when these two teams met a month ago, Ndamukong Suh wasn’t able to play, so that could be a big factor. Suh was in the game for the first half against the Green Bay Packers the week before they played the Saints, and the score was 7-0 in favor of Green Bay at halftime. That’s the game where Suh got ejected in the third-quarter, and the Packers went on to score 20 points after that to get the win. All that’s going to lead to is the Saints utilizing the rushing attack more frequently, meaning the game won’t be as high scoring as some predict, just the underdog keeping it close and not letting the Saints run up a huge score.

Jeff S: As I love going with the underdog, I think the Saints hold the edge here. Sproles is the difference maker. The Lions won’t have an answer for him catching the ball out of the backfield. I really like what Detroit has done this year, unfortunately I think they’ll be done this week.

Rob B: It’s a feel good story for the city of Detroit, even though they may not see it that way, but they’re finally showing signs of being a top contender that I started to see in seasons past. If they had both of their running backs healthy, this could be an awesome match up. Even without those guys,, I would’ve picked Detroit to beat the Falcons, Giant