NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Having shed their long-held reputation for losing with flair of bumbling ineptitude, the New Orleans Saints open the playoffs Saturday as the Super Bowl contenders they expected to be.
Drew Brees broke some of the most prestigious passing records there are, while the Saints (13-3) matched their franchise-best regular-season record from their 2009 march to the Super Bowl and were unbeaten at home for the first time in their 45-year history.
Then there are the Detroit Lions (10-6), who in recent seasons looked more like the old Saints, even reaching a new low with an historic 0-16 season in 2008. That was the season before they drafted quarterback Matt Stafford. Coach Jim Schwarz says the Lions may have less playoff experience than New Orleans, but still have great players.