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Swartz: Keys To Seahawks Playoff Win Over Saints

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Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the New Orleans Saints at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2013. (credt: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the New Orleans Saints at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2013. (credt: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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The Seattle weather forecast for tomorrow; 100 percent chance of rain with gusty SSW winds.  No better time for the Seahawks to give the visiting New Orleans Saints a heavy dose of “beast mode” in their NFC Divisional Playoff Game.

“Our philosophy is to have a balanced attack, and why we’ve run the football more than anybody over the past four years, ” said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.  “So when you do need it, it’s there.  It’s not just something you try to jump into.  We want to pound the football with Marshawn again.  If we do that effectively, we’ll have a chance to control the game.”

In their 34-7 regular season loss at Seattle the Saints were bound and determined not to allow Lynch to beat them.   While New Orleans held the Hawks’ bruising runner to just 45 yards on 16 carries, the strategy allowed Russell Wilson to riddle the Saints for explosive pass plays, and 47 yards rushing of his own.

The strong winds swirling through CenturyLink Field could crimp the passing game for both teams. Using Lynch and Robert Turbin to batter the Saints front seven will chew up clock, and keep Drew Brees and the Saints potentially explosive offense on the sidelines.

Percy Harvin is Seattle’s new “x factor.”  The dynamic receiver/kick return player could help take some of the Saints attention off Lynch and Wilson.

“Percy’s going to play, and there’s no pitch count,” said coach  Carroll.    “We’ve got to get the ball to him, you know he can’t do it just being out there.   Hopefully we’ll find a way to do that.”

A week of rest should benefit several key Seattle players for this game.  Left tackle Russell Okung has been dealing with a sore toe effecting his push for blocking.  Defensive end Chris Clemons has played fairly well after major knee surgery last January, but has just one sack in the last 9 games.  His experience and tenacity could be a factor against Saints rookie left tackle Terron Armstead.

The Seahawks jumped out to a 17-0 lead in their December 2nd contest against New Orleans.  The Saints abandoned their own run game, became one-dimensional, and Drew Brees was under constant pressure, having little time to look for deep threats Jimmy Graham and Marcus Colston.

I don’t expect Seattle to enjoy such a comfortable lead in this playoff game.  The Saints best hope is to avoid an avalanche of explosive plays and emotion, and stick around long enough to make the Hawks nervous in the 4th quarter.

If the Seahawks establish the Lynch run game I can envision Seattle gradually wearing down the Saints defense and winning by double digits.

Prediction:         Seattle 27- New Orleans 17

-Bill Swartz, 1090 The Fan-

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