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John DeShazier: Key ingredients to a Saints victory over the Lions

Blocking Ziggy Ansah is going to be critical

  1. Another week, another elite pass rusher for the New Orleans Saints to contend with. Monday's specialist is Detroit defensive end Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, who's second in the league with 13.5 sacks. Both left tackle Terron Armsteadand right tackle Zach Striefhave been slowed by injuries lately, so Ansah could be more troublesome than usual. The Saints have found an offensive groove the last six quarters, scoring 46 points, after totaling 37 in the preceding 12 quarters. Ansah can't be allowed to wreck the groove.
  1. The Saints responded to the season-ending injury to and surgery on leading rusher Mark Ingramby posting 35 rushing attempts against Tampa Bay, their second-highest total of the season. In fact, in the three games this season in which New Orleans has more than 30 rushing attempts, it has been victorious (against Atlanta, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay) and has dominated time of possession. Each game had a similar characteristic: The Saints took an early lead and were able to turn to the run game. Another early lead could mean another heavy workload for Tim Hightower, who had a career-high 28 rushing attempts (for 85 yards) against Tampa Bay. The Lions allow 116 rushing yards per game, and the Saints need to take advantage of Detroit's inability to stop the run.
  1. Coach Sean Paytonheaped praise on cornerback Delvin Breauxon Thursday, and Breaux will get yet another chance to show why the Saints have been so impressed with his play. Detroit has a formidable receiving corps, but it's still led by Calvin Johnson, who has 71 catches for 981 yards and seven touchdowns in a "down" year. Johnson (6 feet 5, 237 pounds) has a size advantage on every cornerback, but Breaux is feisty and talented enough to want the responsibility of man-to-man coverage when the play call warrants it.
  1. Lions quarterback Matt Staffordhas been sacked 35 times this season. That's a little more than three times per game, and it's right in the Saints' wheelhouse – in their five wins, the Saints average three sacks per game. If New Orleans can get to Stafford a few times early in the game, it could create a feeding frenzy for the defense. The Lions don't run the ball especially well (79.3 yards per game, last in the NFL), so the ball (and their hopes) likely will be in Stafford's hands. If New Orleans jumps ahead and puts him in comeback mode, it could have another big game in prime time.
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