Tale Of The Tape: New Orleans Saints At Seattle Seahawks
- QuarterbackEvery game is challenging in the NFL, but Drew Brees will have to be at his best for the Saints to have a reasonable chance to win in Seattle. Brees is one of the most accurate passers in the league, but he would be well-advised to concentrate on throwing decisive and quick passes that don’t allow the Seattle pass rushers a chance to dominate the game.The Seahawks have a lot of things going for them in this game since they are coming off the bye week and they will have a raucous home crowd on their side. Russell Wilson may not be the most talented passer in the league, but there may not be a better leader in the game. He does everything well and he is smart enough to make the proper decision at the proper moment.
- OffenseThe Saints don’t have a great running attack, but it is good enough with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles to warrant some attention from the Seahawks. Tight end Jimmy Graham is this team’s dominant receiver, and the Seahawks will focus on stopping him. That means Marques Colston must have a strong game and look for Sproles to play a key receiving role as well.The Seahawks hope that Percy Harvin will be ready to make a bigger contribution in this game than he did in his comeback game against the Vikings. Harvin has game-breaking speed and gives the Seahawks another dimension on offense. Marshawn Lynch is one of the three best power running backs in football. Golden Tate is a solid receiver who can catch the ball in traffic.
- DefenseThe Saints have improved quite a bit on defense this season, and that’s one of the reasons they have moved to the top of the NFC South. The Saints rank fifth in yards allowed, and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton is one of the team’s unsung heroes. He has a team-high 86 tackles. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has a quick first step and he has 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.The Seahawks have an overwhelming defensive team as they rank second in yards allowed. While cornerback Richard Sherman is widely recognized as one of the best cover men in the NFL – he has 12 passes defensed and four interceptions – middle linebacker Bobby Wagner almost never misses a tackle and may be the defense’s best player. DE Michael Bennett has 6.5 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Saints have done an adequate job in their punt and kickoff coverage, but they rarely make big plays on their own returns. Placekicker Garrett Hartley has not had his best season, as he has made just 20-of-26 FG attempts. Thomas Morstead gets excellent height on his punts.No team does a better job than the Seahawks at preventing opponents from gaining yardage on the punt returns. Opponents are averaging just 1.4 yards per punt return. Steven Hauschka has been having a sensational year, having made 24-of-25 FG attempts. Jon Ryan is a solid directional punter.
This game will go a long way to determining who gets home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks are nearly impossible to beat at home and it would take a near-perfect effort to beat them in this game.