Saints won't run over 49ers

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (L) talks with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford...

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (L) talks with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford following their NFL NFC wildcard playoff football game in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 7, 2012. (REUTERS/Sean Gardner)

Rob Longley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:47 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS - The scoring and passing records, both regular-season and playoffs, have been dizzying for Drew Brees and the Saints, but will it be enough to get them to the Super Bowl.

We’re about to find out.

As pleasing to the eye as offence vs. offence was in Saturday’s 45-28 Wild-Card round win over the Lions, the Saints may as well have been playing three-down football compared to what they will get in Northern California.

Offensive beauty meets defensive brawn as the Saints face a San Francisco 49ers defence that was first in the NFC in yards allowed (308.3) and points per game (14.3).

Here’s a look at five record-setting moves the Saints made in Round 1 and why they will matter little in Round 2 of the NFL playoffs.

1. A week after ending the regular season with a franchise-record 616 yards against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Saints rolled up an NFL playoff record 626 yards versus the Detroit Lions.

WHY IT WON’T MATTER: The Saints can save that kind of performance for potential future playoff dates versus. the Packers and Patriots. Playing on the grass against the tougher 49ers defence will recall more of a ball-control attack than the glitzy “pedal-to-the-metal” style Brees excels at. Statistically, it takes the 49ers more than two full games to allow that amount.

2. The Saints won their franchise-record fifth post-season game in a row at home, rallying in front of their fired up Superdome crowd.

WHY IT WON’T MATTER: Obviously, they move to the road where they haven’t been nearly so dominant. All three of their losses this season came outside of the Big Easy where defences have a far better chance to focus, adapt and hear their calls in front of the relative quiet of their home crowd. The Saints will take heart from the fact that since 2006 they have the third best road record of any NFL team, trailing only the New England Patriots and New York Giants.

3. The Saints and Lions combined for an insane 1,038 combined yards of offence in the Wild Card game, equalling an post-season mark. Both teams marched up and down the field with ease as the expected shootout materialized.

WHY IT WON’T MATTER: For one thing, the 49ers play a much more understated, power-based game on offence and prefer to control the tempo and the clock. For another, the San Fran defence is nothing like the Saints have faced this season.

4. Drew Brees completed 33 of 46 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Lions, the second most in NFL playoff history.

WHY IT WON’T MATTER: Though it will be difficult to run against the stout 49ers defensive front, the Saints will be obliged to try, otherwise Brees will face a barrage of pass-rush heat all game. The Saints stress they are more balanced on offence than in their Super Bowl season and showed that against the Lions. That balance will need to continue at Candlestick and the way Darren Sproles ran against the Lions is something that needs to be tried again. Sproles’ quickness and elusiveness may just have some success getting through the beefy 49ers front.

5. The 34 first downs by the Saints also equalled an NFL postseason record as the teams exchanged scores at a head-turning pace.

WHY IT WON’T MATTER: Chances are the Saints won’t have the ball nearly long enough to move the chains that many times. Like most teams the Saints have faced this season, the 49ers are likely to score points but when they do so it won’t be on quick-strike drives like the Lions. More likely, the 49ers will move the ball meticulously, chewing up the clock in the process. One other thing: The Saints didn’t punt once versus the Lions and that isn’t about to happen Saturday at Candlestick.

 


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