I have a hard time writing about just one game I know and you know there are other games out there whether they be on the hard court or on the ice. Tonight is a little different though. In the loudest stadium in the National Football League, the Seattle Seahawks will host the New Orleans Saints in a game that could very well decide who has home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs.
I say “could” because there are still four games left to be played for each team after tonight. Two of those, if you’re the Saints, are against the Carolina Panthers who are breathing down the Saints’ necks. For Seattle, they still have a date in San Francisco, next week against the 49ers and divisional games with the Cardinals and Rams.
So before we declare tonight’s game the “Game of the Season” or “Game of the Century,” let’s remember there is still much left that can happen. With that said, let’s talk about the Saints and Seahawks and what it could do for you.
New Orleans (+5) at Seattle – New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees has heard the mumbles ever since he arrived in the Big Easy. He’s a great quarterback when he plays at home or inside another dome but get him outside and he suddenly becomes an average quarterback. What Brees needs to understand is that there are facts that back up those assertions.
During the current 2013 season, Brees’ completion percentage outdoors versus indoors is 60.7% vs. 73.1%. His quarterback rating is 84.6 vs. 121.4 while his touchdown to interception ratio is 7/5 outdoors vs. 21/3 indoors.
These three stats are pretty convincing. You can bet that Saints’ Head Coach Sean Payton is aware of those stats as well and that’s why I think you’ll see a bit of a different gameplan out of New Orleans. Look for one of two things from the Saints tonight; either they’ll make a very concerted effort to get the running game going or they may come out in a no-huddle attack in an effort to change things up.
Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram are nice backs but I’m not sure they can fulfill the consistency the running game will require in Seattle. The exception to that is the fact Seattle is just 16th in the NFL against the run so perhaps the Saints will find some success.
For Seattle the gameplan is pretty much what it always is and that’s to establish the run and set up Russell Wilson for play-action. That means heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch and if he can establish himself early that could mean a long day for Rob Ryan and the Saints’ defense. Speaking of Ryan, its evident his presence has had a very positive influence on this unit.
The Saints are a spot better than Seattle against the run and are also very good against the pass. His decisions on when to bring the blitz and when not to will be crucial.
The Seahawks are 5-0 straight up in their last five home games and are 4-2 straight up against the Saints in their last six meetings. For New Orleans, they are 4-2 straight up in their last six road games and are 2-4 against the spread when playing at Seattle.
Both teams are pretty healthy for this time of year but Seattle will be without Percy Harvin.
New Orleans must survive the early onslaught by the Seahawks and their crowd. That means no turnovers and scoring early in the game. I think the Saints will give it everything they have but Brees’ record outdoors troubles me. Take the Seahawks to cover and with the over/under at 47.5, take the under.