By Zach Walker
New Orleans Saints vs Seattle Seahawks
Saturday – January 11 – 3:35 PM
CenturyLink Field – Seattle
How did they get here?
The Saints earned the right to keep playing by beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 26-24 with a 32-yard field goal as the clock expired. The Saints had been absolutely dreadful away from New Orleans, but the Eagles didn’t exactly have a home field advantage this season and ended up pleasing everyone in Dallas by losing the game. Mark Ingram outplayed LeSean McCoy and Cameron Jordan played a fantastic game, racking up 1 and a half sacks. The Seattle Seahawks have been the top dog of the NFL all year long, and have played some of the toughest football that one can watch and still be entertained. The Seattle defense isn’t unbeatable, but at home, with that rowdy crowd fueling them, if they start to roll, it can get ugly (see Week 2 vs. San Francisco). Russell Wilson commands a sound offense of run and doesn’t make dumb mistakes. He makes high percentage throws, and I think everyone can remember the last time Marshawn Lynch played the Saints in the playoffs; he shredded the entire defense and scored on one of the truly timeless plays in playoff history.
How can these teams win?
New Orleans Saints: Take everything that was written down in preparation for their Week 13 matchup with the Seahawks, and throw it in the trunk of a car and push that car into the Gulf, because the Saints played like garbage. The Saints need to establish something early in the game, something physical and run the ball right at the Seahawks. It might sound dumb attacking the 7th best running defense team, but it helped the 49ers and the Cardinals both beat the Seahawks. Having Jimmy Graham is always an advantage, and if Brees can get the ball to him if they put a linebacker on Graham, they can own the middle of the field. Kenny Stills can run past just about anyone, and if the Seahawks turn the ball over at all in the game, the next play should be a burn by Stills and an attempt at the endzone.
Seattle Seahawks: It’s all about the defense, and if they just tap into what they did to the Saints earlier this season, they should be fine and back in the NFC Championship Game. Richard Sherman talks a lot, but backs it up with some of the best man coverage in the sport, his press game is off the charts, and once he’s in the receiver’s head, the matchup is over, and if the Saints spread Jimmy Graham out wide, that will be a must-see football matchup. If the Seahawks can contain the Saints’ running backs in the passing game, this game will be Week 13 again. On offense, the Seattle offensive line is beatable and is the team’s weakness, but the mobility of Russell Wilson makes it passable, and the fullback Michael Robinson takes some very serious heat off of Marshawn Lynch. Top to bottom, the Seahawks are dominate.
Prediction: Seattle – 34 New Orleans 17 A game in the first half starts to get ugly in the second.