New Orleans Offense vs. Seattle Defense
All week we have heard about the “sting” the Saints players felt in losing at Seattle. While revenge is a great motivator, you still have to overcome the talent.
NFL football handicappers expect head coach Sean Peyton to have different methods for Drew Brees to find his two most important targets in the offense; RB Darren Sproles and TE Jimmy Graham. In each case, these players not only make big plays, but move the chains.
In the previous matchup, the two players only accounted 85 yards. The thinking has to be getting the ball to them quicker instead of letting plays develop, with the belief they can turn five-yard throws into longer plays. If the Saints can get a similar game from Mark Ingram like last week (97 yards rushing), this might open up the field.
The problem with Seattle’s defense is the size, speed and flexibility it takes to the gridiron. The Seahawks held opposing teams to just 14.4 points a game (opponents averaged 22.1) and to 57 fewer yards an outing. The front seven is disruptive with power and strength in the defensive line and speed at linebacker.
New Orleans is shaky at the offensive tackle positions in pass protection and the Seattle has the manpower to be in Brees face all game long. Plus, with size of the secondary, Brees or any quarterback cannot just throw the ball up hoping their receivers can make a play.
For those making NFL picks, Seattle has the edge, especially at home.
NFL Football Playoffs Edge – Seattle by 2.5 points
Seattle Offense vs. New Orleans Defense
Russell Wilson destroyed the New Orleans defense with his legs and arm the last time, accounting for 347 total yards. He was able to get on the edge, which took away the Saints pass rush and created running and throwing lanes.
The Seattle offense has been stymied of late in averaging just 19.2 points a game the last quarter of the season. Opposing teams have focused on stopping Marshawn Lynch and the run and having outside pass rushers not allowing Wilson to scamper outside the pocket.
This will be New Orleans defensive mission, with the hope to rattle Wilson into a couple errant throws which could be picked off.
To counter this, watch coach Pete Carroll be aggressive in throwing down the field against a depleted Saints secondary which is using whatever useful bodies it has on the roster. Wilson is an accurate deep-thrower on post patterns and they could hit big plays. New Orleans only defense against this strategy is the pass rush.
NFL Football Playoffs Edge – Seattle by three points
Understanding the Intangibles
Right off the top, sportsbooks give Seattle a three-point edge being at home, based on their 15-1 SU and 12-4 ATS records the past two years. You also have to factor in the Saints are 2-7 ATS on the road this season and while they have the revenge factor as motivation, they still are outdoors and on the road again, having played cross-country last week.
In the past three years, we have seen four top seeds eliminated this round and in each case the rested team was lethargic to start the, while the visitor was the aggressor. The first quarter should be a glimpse to the eventual outcome.
Seattle would appear to have the edge in kicking game, with New Orleans making a late season change in kickers and they have a punter in Jon Ryan who had a league-high 30 fair catches induced, adding value to the Hawks on the NFL odds.
NFL Football Playoffs Edge – Seattle by 3.5 points
NFL Pick – Seattle by 8.5 points