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New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks: Preview and Pick
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks: Preview and Pick
The biggest game of the week is easily the Monday night football game. The New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks are two of the best teams in the NCF and in the NFL. The Saints will travel to the west coast with the home field advantage in the playoffs on the line. With one of the best offenses going up against one of the best defenses in the league, this game should live up to all of the hype.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks Odds
The opening NFL point spread for this game have the Seahawks listed as (-4.5) point favorites. This line is over a field goal due to the fact that the Seahawks have one of the most dominant home field advantages in the entire league. The betting action is nearly split as 54 percent of the early wagers are coming in on the Saints. The line has moved in favor of Seattle and it can now be found at (-5.5) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.
The Seahawks defense will face a tough test on Monday when trying to stop one of the top offensive duos in the league. Drew Brees completed another deep touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham Thursday, a 44-yard score in the second quarter. Brees' 13 touchdown passes and Graham's 6 touchdown receptions on throws 15 or more yards downfield both lead the league this season. - Drew Brees has thrown 2 interceptions on passes at least 15 yards downfield this season. Last season, Brees was tied for the league lead with 10 interceptions on such throws.
Jimmy Graham now has six games this season with at least 100 receiving yards. That's tied for the most in a season by any tight end in NFL history. That makes him the top target for the Seattle defense on Monday night football.
The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that both teams have positive trends in their favor heading into this clash. The Seahawks are 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 5 home games when playing against a team with a winning road record, 15-5 ATS in their last 20 games following a straight up win and 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 Monday games. The Saints are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game, 20-9 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record and 21-10 ATS in their last 31 games on fieldturf.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks Pick
With plenty of time to go before the start of is big game, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
Back from their bye week, with the best record in the NFL and heading into a Monday night showdown with the New Orleans Saints, Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks spent yesterday dealing with the kinds of distractions they believed were over.
Instead, the Seahawks are adding to the list of player suspensions they've faced since Carroll took over in 2010.
Starting cornerback Walter Thurmond was officially suspended yesterday by the NFL for the team's next four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Thurmond is the sixth Seattle player officially suspended for substance-abuse or performance-enhancing drugs violations by the league since 2011. That doesn't include Richard Sherman, whose suspension was overturned on appeal late last season.
The Seattle Seahawks (10-1) play host to the New Orleans Saints (9-2) Monday night with a whole lot at stake.
Everyone knows that playing at home come playoff time means a lot. Because of the huge advantage the Saints have in the Superdome, earning home-field advantage in the postseason could make all the difference for New Orleans.
Under Sean Payton, the Saints have never lost a home playoff game and have never won a playoff game on the road, other than winning the Super Bowl title in 2009 in Miami.
It won’t be an easy task against the Seattle Seahawks.
Just like the Saints have a great home-field advantage in New Orleans, Seattle has the same at their place.
They also have one of the most talented rosters in football to back them up.
The Seahawks feature one of the premier runners in the game in Marshawn Lynch, one of the top young quarterbacks in the business in Russell Wilson and one of the most feared receiving/return men in the game in Percy Harvin.
They also have one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL and the best secondary in the league led by Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The Seahawks defense has given up just 179 points in 2013, the second least amount in the NFC this season behind the Carolina Panthers.
The match up to watch is how well the Saints receivers can get separation from the best defenders in the league in one-on-one matchups at crucial times during a game.
We all remember the 2010 playoff game in Seattle.
The Saints lost that football game 41-36, so it was not a case of the offense not scoring enough to win, but the defense just couldn’t stop the Seahawks offense that day.
However, this Saints defense is far better than the one that hit the field in 2010.
Right now the Saints feature the best young tandem of defensive ends in a 3-4 defense in the NFL in Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan.
Jordan is playing at a Pro Bowl level and has recorded 9 ½ quarterback sacks. He leads a unit that has totaled 37 sacks with five games left to play. The most a defense in the Sean Payton-era has ever recorded during a season was 38 back in 2006.
This season the Saints are also playing great red zone defense. They have only given up 21 touchdowns in 2013.
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is making it work with many of the same components that gave up 56 touchdowns to opponents in 2012.
Jordan, Hicks, John Jenkins, Brodrick Bunkley, Glenn Foster, Junior Galette and Tom Johnson have given the Saints great play upfront. Other than the game against the New York Jets, this unit has played at levels even the most optimistic Saints fan couldn’t have imagined.
However, what gives the Saints the best chance to pull off the upset, and eventually win the NFC South Division, is that the team has Drew Brees and the Seahawks and Panthers don’t.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner is facing a one-year suspension for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy, a person with knowledge of Browner's status told USA TODAY Sports.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules with the NFL's drug program.
The person said Browner is still going through the process of appealing the suspension.
NFL.com first reported Browner's suspension Monday evening.
Browner served a four-game suspension in 2012 for violating the performance-enhancing drugs policy. He initially tried to appeal that suspension but dropped it. He missed four regular-season games, but was back with the Seahawks for the playoffs.
This suspension is unrelated and likely signals the end of his career in Seattle. Browner is set to become a free agent in 2014, and this suspension would stretch until late next year.
Browner was already expected to miss much, if not all, of the rest of Seattle's regular-season games this year with a groin injury.
According to the NFL's substance abuse policy, a one-year suspension is punishment for a player who had advanced to the third (and final) stage of the drug program. A player advances to that stage after multiple prior violations of the policy, which could be a positive drug test, a missed drug test or other issues with a test
The timing probably couldn't be worse for the surging Seattle Seahawks to be without two defensive backs with the NFC's most prolific passer coming to town.
The numbers say that Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have plenty of incentive to end Seattle's franchise-record 13-game home win streak.
The conference's top teams are separated by one game as they meet in a Monday night showdown with major postseason implications.
Seattle (10-1) has won six straight and had last weekend off before returning to the news that cornerback Walter Thurmond was officially suspended Tuesday by the NFL for the next four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The suspension was first reported over the weekend.
The Seahawks' secondary is already missing starting cornerback Brandon Browner because of a groin injury.
''We're still trying to work through it. I'll say it again, I've always found myself looking for guys that maybe other people don't see something special in and we take a chance on a guy here or there that needs some extra consideration and care,'' coach Pete Carroll said. ''And sometimes guys they have issues and things pop up but I've always been kind of hopeful and make guys find the best in them and bring it out. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't."
It's a major blow for Seattle, tied with Buffalo with a league-best 16 interceptions - four apiece by Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have forced an NFL-high 26 turnovers entering Week 13.
Brees is second in the NFL in passing yards (3,647) and touchdowns (28) to Peyton Manning. Nineteen of his touchdowns have come in six home games compared to nine in five on the road, and the star quarterback's three lowest games in terms of yardage have been away from home.
New Orleans (9-2) is in a tight race with Carolina to win the NFC South. A victory Monday would give the Saints the tiebreaker over Seattle and the inside track for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage indoors as opposed to the possibility of having to return to the hostile surroundings of CenturyLink Field in the postseason.
The Saints have never won a road playoff game in five tries and are 0-3 in such contests under coach Sean Payton, with Brees posting the three lowest passer ratings of his postseason career in those games.
Payton insists his team isn't fazed by the road.
"I think it's a typical stereotype with a dome team," Payton said. "I don't know what else to tell someone than to do some research and bring back some numbers and I'll answer a question."
One of those road playoff defeats came the last time these teams met, a 41-36 loss to a 7-9 Seattle team in the 2010 season when the Saints went 11-5.
That one is best remembered for Marshawn Lynch's 131 yards on the ground, including a 67-yard score dubbed "The Beast Quake'' that is considered one of the best runs in postseason history. The play has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.
Lynch is fourth in the NFL with 84.1 yards per game and 75 yards shy of his fifth 1,000-yard season. He should be a concern for a Saints defense that is allowing opponents 4.8 yards per carry for the league's fourth-worst mark.
New Orleans has showed improvement in its last two games, limiting San Francisco's Frank Gore and Atlanta's Steven Jackson to a combined 111 rushing yards. The Saints won 23-20 over the 49ers on Nov. 17 and 17-13 four nights later against the Falcons.
This is New Orleans' first look at Russell Wilson, who is sixth in the league in passer rating at 105.1 - not far behind fourth-place Brees' 107.3 mark.
Wilson said he used to root for Brees and New Orleans before he entered the NFL and has studied the Saints' signal-caller extensively.
"I know everyone compares our heights and everything, but the thing that I admire about him is his leadership, attention to detail, his competitive nature," Wilson said. "He is very clutch. He is very poised in big situations."
Wilson will have to be wary of a Saints pass rush that is one of the NFL's best with 37 sacks, 9 1/2 by defensive end Cameron Jordan.
The Seahawks have won both of Wilson's appearances on Monday nights, while Brees has won nine straight starts on Mondays with a 123.6 passer rating.
Carroll unsurprisingly wouldn't reveal how he plans to defend against tight end Jimmy Graham, tied for the NFL lead with Detroit's Calvin Johnson with 11 TD receptions entering Week 13.
The Seahawks will be in position to clinch a playoff spot with a victory if Arizona or San Francisco lose Sunday.
"Every game that we play is a championship game," Carroll said. "You never know which one is going to be the one that you look back on and say, 'Boy, if we'd have got that one, we would've had this or that.' So we play every one of them like it's the biggest game in the world."
In theory, the New Orleans Saints should be licking their chops after the Seattle Seahawks lost their No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks to suspensions this past week. But that isn’t the case at all.
For one thing, the Seahawks still have their No.1 guy – All-Pro Richard Sherman, who has emerged in recent years as one of the NFL’s elite cover men. For another thing, the Saints have seen enough from backups Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane to know that Seattle has the depth to make their system work with the “next man up.”
Behind defensive backs Earl Thomas, left, and Richard Sherman, Seattle has the NFL's No. 2 pass defense this season. “They have played, so we have film. I think the thing, and I told our players this, they are going to come in and play the same type of technique. You don’t see something change differently in regards to how they play a certain coverage or how they play a technique,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “[Overall, the Seahawks] are very, very good at playing bump and run outside. I would say it’s complementary to what they are also very good at, and that is rushing the passer.
“They are able to challenge offenses with … their ability to stay on a receiver in tight, very tight coverage. Sherman, the free safety [Earl] Thomas, the strong safety [Kam] Chancellor, they have a lot of talented players, not only in the back end. They have a young linebacker core that runs extremely well and a front that is very physical and very active. Couple that with a crowd noise and an environment that is uniquely different, you have a formula that is successful, and you’re seeing it right now.”
The Seahawks are tied for the NFL lead with 16 interceptions this year. And they’re second in the NFL in passing defense, allowing just 180.4 passing yards per game.
“Their secondary is full of a bunch of ball hawks,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “They are guys that are around the ball all the time. Balls are getting tipped up, they have great ball skills, great awareness. That’s what their defense thrives on. …
“Sherman’s a great player, but they’ve got Earl Thomas who was an All-Pro last year. I’ve been in the Pro Bowl with him twice now, and I’m extremely impressed with him. He’s a guy who loves football. You can tell that he studies the game, studies every aspect of it. He wants to be a great player – not just a good player, a great player.”
It will be especially interesting to see how the Seahawks choose to match up against Saints tight end Jimmy Graham – whether they’ll stick with man coverage and whether they’ll use Sherman in that role.
Either way, the Seahawks still have more quality options than most teams that face the Saints.
The “Beast Mode” run has been shown many times, to the delight of Seattle Seahawks fans and the chagrin of New Orleans Saints followers, as an encapsulation of grit and forcefulness by the Seahawks, and of despair for the Saints.
Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run in the NFC wild-card game in 2011 wasn’t just a scoring run. It was a stiff-armed, tackle-breaking back-breaker that gave the Seahawks an 11-point lead in what would become a 41-36 victory.
“Obviously, everybody remembers that run,” Seattle second-year quarterback Russell Wilson said. “I remember it and I wasn’t even on the team yet. But I remember that run.”
The Saints haven’t visited CenturyLink Field (then, Qwest Field) or played the Seahawks since that day, when Seattle, which won the NFC West with a 7-9 record, ended the Saints’ hopes repeating as Super Bowl champions, after New Orleans won 11 regular-season games.
Yet, despite the fact that the only Saints defender remaining from that day is safety Roman Harper, the mission remains the same for the Saints (9-2) in a nationally televised game against Seattle (10-1) on Monday night as it did in Jan. 2011.
Lynch, who has run for 925 yards and nine touchdowns on 208 carries this season, is the lynchpin for Seattle’s offense. Usually, the Seahawks only are as successful offensively as Lynch is productive.
In the Seahawks’ current six-game winning streak, he has run for 515 yards and six touchdowns, on 4.6 yards per carry. In five home games he has run for 423 yards and six touchdowns on 104 carries, 4.1 yards per carry.
“We’re going to need that type of play from him,” Wilson said. “We’re going to need that physical, relentless attitude from him and the rest of the guys, too.”
And the Saints, obviously, will need to match that to counter it.
“If they beat us and (Wilson) throws the ball 50 times, we’re good with that,” Harper said. “But we can’t allow them to run it 40 times and kind of dictate the tempo. We need to kind of take it to them a little bit.
“I think we’re playing a little bit better, gap solid (run defense). That’s what it’s all about – we’re not giving up explosive runs, which we did against the Jets. We’ve got to be able to tackle this running back. Marshawn’s a big back, he runs powerful.”
The Saints had a dress rehearsal for Lynch and the Seahawks on Nov. 17 in a 23-20 victory over San Francisco in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In that game the Saints defense limited 49ers running back Frank Gore to 48 yards on 13 carries. The defense proved to be more physically imposing than the 49ers offense, which entered the game ranked fourth in rushing offense, at 147.7 yards per game.
Seattle is third, averaging 147.9 rushing yards per game.
“I think there’s a formula that they look closely at,” Saints Coach Sean Payton said. “They’ve got a really good offensive line, obviously a very good scheme, they’re very well-coached and have an extremely talented running back, and it sets up the down and distances that they look for, those third-down-and-shorts.
“They lead the league in big plays. When you look statistically, it’s a very physical group that understands exactly what they’re doing and how to win.”
Wilson is a capable passer (2,362 yards, 64 percent completion rate, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions), but the Seahawks are a heavy run team that has 1,627 rushing yards. Lynch averages 18.9 carries per game but has had games of 21 (three times), 24 and 28 carries.
“It all starts with the offensive line,” Wilson said. “They’re moving their feet. They’re fitting up on blocks. They’re doing a great job being physical.
“As a game goes on, you usually hit those big runs. We’re starting off the game getting those three, four, five yards and then Marshawn finds a way to break one. That’s what we want to be, we want to be physical. We want to run the football. That’s all the time.
“It’s every game for us. We want to set the tone and that’s how we want to play and play-action off of it and do some great things in the passing game and be very explosive.”
The Saints expect nothing less.
“Especially toward the end of the year, when you start playing these big games, you know these games are going to be physical,” linebacker Curtis Lofton said. “I think this defense is built for that and we look forward to that. It’s just another day to go out and prove what you can do and we look forward to it.”
Percy Harvin’s injured hip caused him to miss the first 10 games of the season, and now Harvin has managed to play in just one game before more concerns are being raised about whether his hip can hold up.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said today that Harvin will be listed as doubtful and will most likely miss the Seahawks’ big Monday night game against the Saints. Via PFT’s Curtis Crabtree, Carroll said Harvin is sore and hasn’t been able to respond after the game against the Vikings, when Harvin made his Seahawks debut and caught one pass for 17 yards and returned one kickoff for 58 yards.
Carroll indicated that Harvin’s issue is just soreness, and not something structurally wrong with the hip. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Harvin’s hip flared up again, and he’s seeing doctors today.
When healthy, Harvin is one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers. But the Seahawks would like to see him get healthy enough to play in more than one consecutive game.