rapidly are slipping out of their grasp. They desperately need to upset the 9- point favored Saints.

“I think we need to worry more about ourselves and how we play and not, you know, sit there and watch TV too much and … read too much stuff on the Saints,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “ The Saints are 8- 3, we’re 7- 4. They’re a game ahead of us, you know; they’ve lost three games, they lost to Tampa, a team that we beat, they lost to Green Bay, they lost to St. Louis.

“It’s about us and the way we play and trying to accentuate our strengths more than worrying too much about the opponent.”

It’s also about matchups, and the Lions do have the league’s sixth- ranked pass defense. Trying to cover Green Bay’s legion of receivers was good practice for trying to handle Brees’ guys.

But they couldn’t cover the Packers all that well and it will be more of the same in New Orleans. The Saints are too hot for fading Detroit to handle … SAINTS, 37-27.

Indianapolis (plus 20 1/2) at New England

Patriots may have big spread covered by halftime … BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 44-10.

Oakland (plus 3) at Miami

This one is simple: Raiders are better team, should be favored … UPSET SPECIAL: RAIDERS, 21-15. Dallas (minus 4 1/2) at


Tempting to see this as trap game with Giants up next for Dallas … COWBOYS, 24-21.

Green Bay (minus 7) at

New York Giants

Everything Giants did in New Orleans indicates another loss in similar matchup … PACKERS, 33-20 .

Cincinnati (plus 6 1/2) at


Bengals scare top division rivals, don’t beat them … STEELERS, 20-19.

Baltimore (minus 6 1/2) at


Ravens can’t afford a slip in race for top AFC seed … RAVENS, 20-6.

St. Louis (plus 13) at San


Niners clinch NFC West with a win. No sweat … 49ERS, 24-7.

Philadelphia (minus 3) at


A dud matchup for NFL Network, especially with Michael Vick out again …

EAGLES, 17-16. Atlanta (minus 2 1/2) at


Defense and running game won’t be quite enough for Texans … FALCONS, 22-17.

Tennessee (plus 1 1/2) at


Titans still thinking playoffs, Bills too banged-up to have any more hope … TITANS, 17-13.

Kansas City (plus 8) at


Anybody got a quarterback worth watching? … BEARS, 20-7.

New York Jets (minus 3) at


Jets don’t do anything easily, yet are alive in wild-card chase … JETS, 16-14.

Carolina (plus 3 1/2) at

Tampa Bay

Two NFC South teams whose seasons have gone south … BUCCANEERS, 27-24.

San Diego (minus 2 1/2) at Jacksonville, Monday night

One coaching change (Del Rio) made, one (Turner) on the way … JAGUARS, 16-14 .

Denver (OFF) at Minnesota

Off, on, up, down, in, out — doesn’t matter. Go with Tebow … BRONCOS, 14-13. RECORD: Against spread: 7-7 (overall 88-74-4); straight up 10-6 (overall 114-62); Best Bet: 2-10 against spread, 7-5 straight up. Upset Special: 8-4 against spread, 6-6 straight up.