By Matthew Asher
The Week 13 matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks was supposed to feature the two best teams in the NFC fighting for playoff seeding. It didn’t exactly go the way people thought as Seattle crushed New Orleans 34-7 while setting the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd.
Just because the Seahawks decimated the Saints doesn’t mean this will be deja vu all over again as New Orleans still has some of the best rankings on both sides of the ball in the entire league.
Saints on Offense
This is where the game will be won or lost as New Orleans has one of the best offenses in the league and Seattle has one of the best defenses in the league. To quote the late Gorilla Monsoon, with both New Orleans and Seattle ranking in the Top 5 of offense and defense, respectively, this particular matchup should be “the irresistible force meets the immovable object.”
New Orleans averages 25.9 points a game, the 10th best in the league. The majority of their 399.4 total yards of offense (the fourth most in the league) come from the passing game as Drew Brees averages 307.4 yards through the air each game, second only to Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.
Last week against Philadelphia, Brees completed 20 of his 30 passing attempts for 250 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 75.7. None of the receivers for New Orleans had a particularly good game as running back Darren Sproles led the team with four receptions and tight end Jimmy Graham led the team with 44 receiving yards.
Even though the Saints rushing offense has been average at best during the season, they were unstoppable last game. In the regular season New Orleans averaged 92.1 yards on the ground, ranking in the bottom 10 of the league. Against Philly, Mark Ingram alone outran the team average as he finished with 18 carries for 97 yards. As a team, New Orleans finished with 36 total carries for 185 yards and one touchdown, averaging a very impressive 5.1 yards per carry.
Saints on Defense
Just like Seattle, New Orleans has a very capable defense. While Seattle ranks first in points allowed, total yards and passing yards surrendered each game, New Orleans is right behind the ‘Hawks ranking fourth in points and total yards and second in limiting passing yards. The one weakness of the Saints is their run defense, which is the strength of Seattle’s offense.
New Orleans gives up 111.6 yards on the ground each game, the 19th most in the league. Seattle’s combination of quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch average 136.8 yards on the ground each game, the fourth best in the league.
Against Philly, New Orleans turned the ball over twice and didn’t record any takeaways. One of the main reasons they were still able to win the game was ball control. New Orleans held the ball for nearly 35 minutes and was 7-13 in third down conversions. Seattle is one of the best teams at forcing turnovers so don’t expect the Saints to get away with sloppy playing like they had against Philly.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:35 pm PDT on Saturday, Jan. 11.
For more news and updates about the NFL Playoffs, visit NFL Playoffs Central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.