Who: #6 seed New Orleans Saints (11-5) at #1 seed Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
What: NFC Divisional Playoffs
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
When: Saturday, January 11th at 4:35 PM ET
TV Channel: FOX
The New Orleans Saints travel to one of the most daunting places to play in the NFL– Seattle. The Seahawks have won 15 of 16 games at CenturyLink Field. The noise and chaotic atmosphere by the “12th man” has made it tough for any opposing team to win in this stadium. But, the Saints bring a lot of playoff experience to the table, as they have been in the postseason the last three seasons.
This will be a matchup of a stellar offense and a very physical defense. New Orleans boasts one of the best passing offenses in the NFL, led by quarterback Drew Brees in his 13th season. Brees and the Saints boast the second ranked pass attack in the league. One of his main go-to receivers has been tight end Jimmy Graham. This season, Graham has recorded over 1,200 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Not to mention, wide receivers Marques Colston and Kenny Stills have combined for almost 1,600 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Brees has a lot of weapons to throw to, but will the offense execute against a stingy defense?
The Seahawks earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC because their defense has come up with big plays time after time. Seattle ranks first in passing yards allowed and seventh in rushing yards allowed per game. Since taking over the helm, Head Coach Pete Carroll has instilled an attacking defense that doesn’t allow big games to opponents. The Hawks’ secondary has been crucial to their success. Safety Earl Thomas leads the team with 78 solo tackles and cornerback Richard Sherman leads the NFL with eight interceptions this year (two more than any other player). If this defense can slow down the Saints’ offense, it will be hard to stop them from advancing to the NFC Championship.
The Seahawks haven’t made it to the Conference Championship since Carroll became Head Coach, but will this be their year? On the other side, the Saints lost to Seattle in a 2010 Wildcard game, but will this year’s game be different?
Let’s take a look at analysis from some great bloggers:
“The Saints did well to beat Philadelphia in the Wild Card Round, but the fun stops in Seattle.
The Seahawks had an extra week to rest up and get healthy, and they’ll be raring to go when the whistle blows on Saturday, Jan. 11.
Percy Harvin, who has been practicing with the team all week leading up to the game, ‘looks unbelievable so far,’ according to Russell Wilson.
His speed will open things up for Wilson in the passing game, which will also help Marshawn Lynch find running lanes. Lynch was a powerhouse for the Seahawks all year, rushing for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Weather will be a huge factor, and one that favors Seattle. According to Weather.com, there’s a 100 percent chance of rain in the forecast, with high winds that could gust up to 50 miles per hour. The crazy (in the best way) fans in Seattle better be ready to act like ducks in the rain for this one.
Seattle is built to win an ugly game in the rain, but New Orleans isn’t.
Combined with all the other factors in this matchup, it’s easy to make the call in favor of the home team in this contest.”
Prediction: Seahawks win, 31-17
“Week 13 of the NFL season brought us a huge matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks as Drew Brees attempted to lead his Saints to a victory over the Seahawks in Seattle. Well, that’s easier said than done, as Brees and company found out. Seattle defeated New Orleans soundly by a 34-7 score and ended any idea of the Saints getting the no. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.”
“Since their game against the Saints, the Seahawks were finally defeated at home by the Arizona Cardinals. After seeing that occur, should New Orleans walk into Seattle with more confidence than they had in Week 13? When it’s all said and done on Saturday, I see the Seahawks defeating the Saints and moving onto the NFC Championship game.”
“For Seattle’s offense, I believe New Orleans will change their game plan slightly. It seemed the Saints were selling out to stop the running game in Week 12, expecting their secondary to win the one-on-one match ups that both blitzes and loaded boxes allow. We may see the Saints play with two high safeties to eliminate the deep throws that Darrell Bevell is so fond of and Russell Wilson so proficient at. That would mean the Seahawks would see more seven man fronts against 12 personnel, which gives the Seahawks the advantage in the running game.”
“On defense, the task is simple: we must ask this unit to go out and do exactly what they’ve done for the past five games, including repeating their Monday night performance against the Saints. We may see the Saints attempt to scheme Jimmy Graham open through stacked sets and other means to defeat tight man coverage. Darren Sproles may also see a bigger role through wheel routes, leaks and screens. The New Orleans offense may try to grind out drives that take up plenty of time with lots of plays but few explosive ones, if any. Hell, they may even hurry-up no-huddle the whole damn game to keep the defense from resting and attempt to mitigate the crowd.”
Certainly, the Seahawks were able to dominate the Saints in the early December game winning 34-7 at CenturyLink Field. But since then both teams have improved and learned a lot more about themselves. Seattle would like to see a slowed down pace with the game, but New Orleans hopes their offense speeds it up. Whichever team can score early and put some pressure on the opposing team will have an advantage to start things out. Many people favor the Seahawks to win the game, but you never know what could happen in the playoffs!
Aaron Siegal-Eisman (@ASiegalEisman) is a regular contributor of NCAAM, NCAAF and NFL coverage to the movoli blog.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in movoli blogs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of movoli.
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