Game of the week? You bet, this is a game that both the Saints and Seahawks have had circled on their calendars for weeks now, the only question was what shape would the two teams be in when the game arrived. Guess what? The two teams are seed #1 and #2 in the NFC.
Get ready for a classic.
The Saints offense has gotten better week by week. That’s quite a statement, but it’s the truth. At the beginning of the season the running game was nonexistent and the pass protection was nothing like it has been in seasons past. But game by game the running game with Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles has shown improvement. That coupled with the excellent short passing game has given the offensive line the edge they need when the Saints go deep.
The Saints also lead the league in time of possession, which keeps the defense fresh and hungry along with keeping the Seahawks offense on the sideline, which will help the Saints defense in negating the running game of the Seahawks. The Saints defense has been excellent against teams with running QBs. Just ask San Francisco. The Saints are not thought of as a physical team, but that’s only by the teams that haven’t played them.
The biggest advantage Seattle has is well documented and that is of course their home field advantage. The biggest unknown for Seattle is how the defensive backfield will adjust with the well documented issues of Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.
But this week for Seattle to be effective it will once again have to rely on Marshawn Lynch running the ball effectively and Russell Wilson being able to make plays with his legs. For the Saints defense, keeping Wilson in the pocket when he drops back will be priority #1. The second priority is neutralizing Lynch. If the Seahawks can get those facets of their game going as they would like to, it will keep the Saints offense on the sideline.
Both teams have had extra time to prepare for this game, I’d be willing to bet that both coaching staffs wish they had even more. If the Saints control the time of possession like they have all year and if they can keep Wilson from making plays with his legs should come out on top. My prediction is SAINTS 33 – 21
Bill Stephens, SaintsGab (Twitter: @SaintsGab)