When and Where: CenturyLink Field. Seattle, Washington, Saturday 4:35pm
The New Orleans Saints will travel to the northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday. The Seahawks have a tremendous home field advantage and arguably the most intimidating stadium to come into as an opponent because of their Guiness World Record holding crowd noise, so traveling to Seattle and coming home with a ‘W’ is no easy chore for any team.
The Saints earned the right to take on the Seahawks, who had a first round bye and have home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs as the number one seed, by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24 in Philly last Saturday. This game may very well boil down to a clash of two strengths, whichever prevails could well be the winner. The Saints had the NFL’s fourth best total offense (399.4 yards per game), second best passing offense (307. yards per game) and tenth best scoring offense (25.9 points per game) this season. While the Seahawks were the best team in total defense (273.6 yards allowed per game), passing defense (172 yards allowed per game), and allowed the league’s fewest points (231).
The Saints are lead by quarterback Drew Brees, who had his third straight 5,o00+ yard passing season, which is a truly incredible accomplishment. His favorite target, Jimmy Graham, possibly the league’s best tight end, lead the Saints in receiving with 86 catches for 1,215 yards, one of four Saints with 500 yards receiving on the season along with Marques Colston, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. Despite being known as an offensive minded squad the Saints are a very good defensive team as well. Rob Ryan’s unit ranked fourth in the NFL in points allowed (304) and fourth in yards allowed per game (305.7).
The Seahawks, as noted above, are a defensive juggernaut. They easily have the best defensive backfield in all of football lead by outspoken and less-than-modest corner Richard Sherman, who lead the NFL in interceptions this season with 8, but they are not a one dimensional football team by any stretch. They feature game changing players on the offensive side of the ball as well, lead by second year quarterback, and burgeoning star, Russell Wilson. While his stats are not as gaudy as Brees’, he is very effective, evidenced by his 101.2 passer rating, and he is the type of player that draws your attention on every play. He is joined in the backfield by a personal favorite of mine, running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had another stellar season in Seattle racking up 1,257 yards rushing and 14 total touchdowns.
The Seahawk home field advantage will continue. New Orleans will take their chances and they will be successful at times but the Seattle defense will keep Brees and company from running amok and the Seattle offense will find a way to score just enough to beat the Saints and continue on to the NFC Championship game.
Seattle 27 – New Orleans 24
(all stats via NFL.com)