The NFL Playoffs often offer rematches from the regular season, which in this case involves the New Orleans Saints trying to forget about how badly they got beat by the Seattle Seahawks in that game, and prove once again that a road game, regardless of their opponent, isn’t something they can’t handle.
The Seahawks have lost at home this season (to the Cardinals), but they’ve won 16 of their last 17 games at home, where they don’t just enjoy the excellent home support but seem to get calls going their way most of the time, allowing them to be uber-aggressive on defense without getting called for interference as much as other teams. They’re allowing 273.6 yards per game this season, the best defense in the NFL. They kept the Saints on only 7 points (34-7 win) when the two teams met in the regular season, allowing only 188 yards of offense.
Drew Brees had one of his worst performances ever in that loss to the Seahawks, throwing for 147 passing yards (his lowest since 2006), only one passing touchdown and according to ESPN, a total QBR of 23, which is his lowest since 2007. Seattle had 28 interceptions and an opponent passer rating of 63.4 this season, one of just 15 teams since 2000 to hold opposing passers to 65.0 or less.
There’s more to Seattle than just defense, but Marshawn Lynch hasn’t had a 100-yard game in a while, and the Saints did an excellent job on LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher, holding him to 77 yards on 21 carries last week. The Saints ran for 185 yards in the win over the Eagles, with Mark Ingram going for 97 and finding the endzone. The Seahawks allow 101.6 rushing yards per game
Will Percy Harvin play? Probably, but not in too much of a role. Still, when healthy, he’s one of the most explosive players in the league. Since joining the NFL in 2009, only Darren Sproles has averaged more all-purpose yards per game than him. Sproles had a quiet game against the Eagles last week, rushing for 29 yards and catching 4 passes for 31 yards.
Prediction – The Saints can play on the road and have the ability and smarts on their coaching staff to make a much closer affair of this one, but the Seahawks have more than just defense on their side. They might have shown signs of weakness in the closing stages of the season, but the combination of a smart Russell Wilson, their defense and the home advantage will be too much for the Saints to handle.