O'Hara: Detroit Lions played nine games against this year's playoff teams

Posted Jan 5, 2013

Columnist Mike O'Hara offers a look at how the Detroit Lions stacked up against this year's NFC playoff teams, what those teams showed and the best and worst from the Lions in those games.

The road to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans didn't necessarily lead through Ford Field in Detroit, but the NFC's six-team field has a familiar look to the Lions and their fans.

Five of the NFC's six playoff teams and two from the AFC played the Detroit Lions in 2012.

The Packers, Vikings, Seahawks, 49ers and Falcons are the NFC teams who played the Lions. The AFC opponents were the Texans and Colts.

With home-and-road games against the Packers and Vikings from the NFC North, the Lions played nine games against playoff teams.

Here's a look at how the Lions stacked up against the NFC playoff teams, what those teams showed and the best and worst from the Lions in those games.

49ers (first-round bye):

Result: 49ers 27, Lions 19 in Game 2 at San Francisco.

Storyline: San Francisco's strength up front on both sides of the ball showed up. Whoever the 49ers face in the playoffs has to contend with an aggressive, fast defense and an offense with a strong line and running game. Alex Smith, not Colin Kaepernik, played quarterback against the Lions.

Lions' best: Comebacks from deficits of 17-6 and 20-9 made it a game. However, the 49ers always seemed to be in control.

Lions' worst: The defense gave up 148 yards rushing and couldn't make a late stand, when the 49ers drove 70 yards on 13 plays to extend the lead to 27-12 with 3:04 left.

Also, a special-teams breakdown hurt. Drayton Florence ran into kicker David Akers on a made field goal

Given a first down, the 49ers continued on to a touchdown.

Falcons (first-round bye):

Result: Falcons 31, Lions 18 in Game 15 at Ford Field.

Storyline: Falcons QB Matt Ryan is on a mission to avoid another playoff failure, and he has help with a terrific receiving corps that torched the Lions for four TD catches. The Falcons' victory gave them home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Lions' best: Calvin Johnson catching 11 passes for 225 yards to whiz by Jerry Rice's record of 1,848 yards. He finished the game with 1,892 for the season.

Lions' worst: The defense giving up the four TD catches, the offense losing three turnovers and converting one of four trips to the red zone.

With Atlanta's offense, any team that gives the Falcons that kind of help is in trouble.

Vikings (at Packers Saturday night):

Results: Vikings 20, Lions 13 in Game 4 at Ford Field; Vikings 34, Lions 24 in Game 9 at Minneapolis.

Storyline: The mission is two-fold: stop Adrian Peterson to make Christian Ponder win the game, and control the Vikings' pass rush. Peterson ran for 199 yards in last week's 37-34 win over the Packers to clinch a playoff berth. Lots of luck in the playoff rematch.

Lions best: The defense did a decent job against Peterson in the first game at Ford Field, holding him to 102 yards on 21 carries. He looked like a mortal, and that qualifies as a defensive win. Matthew Stafford had three TD passes in the second game after being sacked five times in the first meeting.

Lions' worst: The dilemma for any team was exposed in the second game. Peterson exploded for 171 yards and a game-clinching 61-yard TD run. Ponder was solid in the second game, with two TD passes, no picks and 114.2 passer rating.

Ponder might be the weakest quarterback in the playoffs. Make him throw to win, and the Vikes are in deep trouble.

Packers (home vs. Vikings Saturday night):

Results: Packers 24, Lions 20 in Game 10 at Ford Field; Packers 27, Lions 20 in Game 13 at Green Bay.

Storyline: Aaron Rodgers may not have the most yards or TD passes in a given season, but he's the NFL's best quarterback. He showed it in both games, leading clutch drives late that made the difference.

He had four TD passes in the final game against the Vikings, but the Packers' defense couldn't hold up.

If the game is in the hands of the quarterbacks, the Packers have a huge advantage.

Lions' best: They had leads in both games – 20-14 at home, and 14-0 early at Green Bay - before things unraveled. Calvin Johnson had five catches for 143 yards in the first game and 10 for 118 in the second.

Lions' worst: In addition to turnovers – Stafford lost three interceptions and two fumbles in the two games - they couldn't stop Rodgers when it counted. A TD pass at the end of an 82-yard drive won the first game.

In what qualified as an off game for him, he converted a third and long with a laser pass to set up a late clinching field goal in the second game.

Containing Rodgers is the best way to beat the Packers. That doesn't happen often.

Seahawks (at Washington Sunday.):

Result: Lions 28, Seahawks 24 in Game 7 at Ford Field.

Storyline: At midseason, Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson looked like anything but a rookie. Any defense has to contend with his running and passing, and his smarts and leadership. He threw two TD passes and avoided being sacked by the Lions.

The Seahawks are favored on the road because of Wilson's production, a strong running game and an outstanding secondary.

Lions' best: Stafford had three TD passes and finished off an 80-yard, 10-play drive with a one-yard TD pass to Titus Young with 20 seconds left. Young had two TD catches in the game after Nate Burleson went out for the season with a broken bone in his right leg. Rookie Ryan Broyles also had a TD catch.

Lions' worst: Nobody knew at the time, but Young's season would implode after this game because of severe attitude problems. A big-play breakdown hurt the Lions. Marshawn Lynch broke a 77-yard TD run.

The pass rush, that was supposed to harass and fluster a rookie QB, never got to Wilson. The Redskins have to rattle him.