CenturyLink Field in Seattle will play host to the (10-1) Seattle Seahawks as they take on the (9-2) New Orleans Saints in a pivotal matchup of two of the NFL’s best (8.30pm ET, Monday on ESPN).
The clash, which is likely to be replayed in the NFC Championship game, is sure to provide fans with an entertaining evening game.
Seattle Seahawks Preview
Earlier in the week, an article was published ranking the top sophomore quarterbacks from last year’s draft class. With the struggles of Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill and the inconsistency of Andrew Luck, the article argued that Russell Wilson was the best of the class despite being drafted the lowest.
The results don’t lie. Since Wilson began calling plays in the first week of last season, the Seahawks are 21-6. Even better however, Seattle is currently riding a 13-game winning streak at CenturyLink, which has become one of the toughest places for opponents to play.
While Wilson has managed to lead the Seahawks to unprecedented success, individually, his numbers are really not all that impressive. In 2013, the second-year QB out of Wisconsin, ranks just 8th in the NFL in TD (19), 9th in completion percentage (64.0) and 6th in rating. He is also one of the best deep passers in the league, totaling 22-of-39 completions for 8 TD and just two interceptions.
The NFL’s Most Elusive Player
These numbers are pretty solid but the real difference maker for the Seahawks has not been Wilson. Rather, a big reason for this team’s success is owed to Wilson’s veteran backfield mate, RB Marshawn Lynch (pictured).
Now in his seventh year in the NFL, Lynch is running as good as he ever has. Lynch ranks 4th in the NFL in yards (925), 5th in rushing yards per game (84.1) and 2nd in TD (9). According to Pro Football Focus, Lynch is also considered the most elusive player in the league. His elusive rating is astounding at 72.7.
If you watch Lynch run you’ll understand why he tops the NFL in this category. At 215lb, Lynch is classified as a power runner. He breaks tackles with frequency and really pounds the ground when he gets the ball. Due to some of his previous and miraculous plays in the past, it is no surprise Lynch has earned the nickname, “Beast Mode.”
The Matchup: Lynch is a great runner and should have no trouble gashing the New Orleans 15th ranked rushing defense. On average, the Saints allow 111.9 rushing yards to opposing teams which is still well over Lynch’s 84.1 yards a game. But Lynch isn’t the only Seattle runner. Wilson averages 5.7 yards a carry and is on pace to crush his rushing mark from last season. Both of these runners are explosive and New Orleans is sure to have their hands full.
New Orleans Saints Preview
Almost eight years ago, the San Diego Chargers decided to trade Drew Brees to the Saints in light of his injury history and inability to meet expectations. Unfortunately for the Chargers, in his first and second years in New Orleans, Brees went on to pass for 4,400 yards for the first time in his career. The year after that, Brees topped the 5,000 yard mark, something he would do twice more in the following four years. During that time, Brees also broke Dan Marino’s long standing record for most passing yards in a season.
There has been no team, no opposing defender and no coaching scheme that has been able to stop and neutralize Brees. Sure, the future Hall of Famer has had bad games and off days, but even then, his numbers shine through. Last season is the perfect example as in a sub-.500 finish for the Saints, Brees still recorded over 5,100 yards through the air, the second highest of his career.
This season, Brees has averaged 331 passing yards which is among the best in the NFL. This puts the veteran out of Purdue on pace for 5,304 yards which would be the second highest in his career. Altogether, the Saints average the 2nd best mark in the league in this category with 317.3 passing yards a game.
The Matchup: Additionally, Brees is 2nd in the NFL in TD (28), 3rd in completion percentage (68.3), 3rd in yards (3,647) and 4th in rating (107.3). He will be up against a tough Seattle defense that allows a pittance of yards, just 180.4 a game (2nd in NFL). However, this is a defense that is without two of its top defenders, CB Brandon Browner (19 tackles, one INT) and CB Walter Thurmond (31 tackles, one forced fumble, one INT).
It was likely that one of those guys would have been tasked with guarding Brees’ favorite target, the 6’7 TE Jimmy Graham. Graham leads all tight ends and is also 2nd in the NFL in TD with 11.If Seattle can’t find a way to stop the connection he has so mastered with Brees, they could be looking at their first home loss in over two years.
Saints at Seahawks Betting Picks Advice
Home-field advantage for the playoffs is on the line and both teams are going to be fighting hard to get it. Even though the Seahawks have been unbeatable at home, they are still favored a lofty five points over a Saints team that is just as capable of making something happen. The game will likely be decided by less than that though.
- Take the Saints +5pts at odds of -110 with BetOnline or Bovada for the upset victory.
- Follow my advice (8-5 on the over/under) and pick the over at 47 total points in this game @ -110 with BetOnline. Both teams have good pass defenses that allow under 20 points a game but these are the NFL’s second (SEA 27.8 PPG) and third (NO 27.7 PPG) highest scoring teams. Offense will win out so expect a high scoring affair.