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Saints Get Ready to Take on Seahawks in NFC Wildcard Showdown

Even if you weren’t able to make the trip up to Seattle to watch the Saints take on the Seahawks in person, you know that today is going to be filled with challenges for the defending Superbowl champs.  Of course all eyes are on the weather up there and the news is well–wintry.  The forecast calls for a 50% chance of precipitation in the form of rain/snow and a nippy 44° temperature with a brisk  wind blowing from the SSE.  Actually the weather there isn’t all that different from ours right now as there are winter weather advisories posted extensively across our southern states for tonight and tomorrow.  But I digress.

Factors affecting the Saints today:  the weather, injuries, and crowd noise

The Saints certainly aren’t strangers to playing outdoors in the cold this year.  Their schedule put them in Cincinnati and Baltimore in frigid temperatures and less-than-ideal playing conditions.  They won in Cincy and lost by two field goals to a very good Baltimore team.  Overall they did a good job of adapting to the inclimate weather and proved once and for all that a dome team can go out and play in the elements just as well as any other team.  I guess all the practice with the wet balls really paid off.

Well they’ll certainly need some of that beneficial training to pay off today.  With the running game being forced to assume a new identity because of the devastating injuries to Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, it’s going to be ever more critical for the receivers to catch and hold on to the ball.  Turnovers might be the difference in this one, so let’s just hope it’s our defense that’s causing them.  I expect to see Payton use more 3 and 4 receiver sets to cause some matchup problems for that Seahawk defense.  Don’t count the running game out just yet either.  While you may not see many plays from scrimmage out of Bush (who to me just isn’t that type of runner anyway), expect to see him being used as an extra receiver in screens and play-action situations.  At least let’s hope that Payton won’t keep trying to line him up in the backfield if it’s simply not working.   I suppose  Julius Jones will more than likely be the power back (please hold on to the ball today if called upon, JJ).  We may get to see DeShawn Wynn in action for a change, but I doubt if we’ll see any of Joique Bell (unless of course Payton saw something mighty special in him these few short days he’s been on the team).  That’s highly unlikely, but not totally out of the question.

Then there’s the issue of crowd noise.  Qwest Field is notorious for creating problems for opposing offenses (with it’s clever design and all).  Although the Saints have handled hostile environments very well this year, crowd noise was definitely an issue in their loss to Arizona.  I think they learned a lot from that game which has helped them with similar situations from that point on.  Let’s hope that the “12th man” won’t be too much of a distraction for Brees and company.  Of course they won’t have throngs of Who Dats with them like they usually do because many fans couldn’t afford to make the long trip, but trust me, Who Dats everywhere will be tuned in to that game and screaming at their TVs.  We won’t be there in body, but in spirit we’ll be there in abundance.

Some Encouraging Notes:

  • Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, David Thomas, Anthony Waters, and Alex Brown had full practices this week and should be able to play.
  • Gregg Williams is confident with his replacements for Malcolm Jenkins who’s still hobbled by injury.
  • Of the Saints 5 losses this season, only 2 were on the road (at Arizona and at Baltimore).  They’ve actually performed better on the road than at home.

Enjoy the game today, everyone.

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