On December 2nd the Seattle Seahawks defeated the New Orleans Saints 34-7 at Century Link Field. Saturday afternoon the two teams square off again in the same noisy venue, the winner bound for the NFC Championship Game. Easy peasy lemon squeezy for the Hawks, right? Not so fast, my friend. And you won't find a hint of that kind of talk at the Hawks training facility in Renton.
New Orleans, fresh off of exorcising some of their road reputation demons at Philadelphia, have just about gotten a bellyful of December 2nd, and the beating they took at the hands of the Seahawks. Drew Brees and company believe that Saturday will have a different ending. If they get their offensive aerial show in gear they could possibly be right.
Brees accounted for more than 5100 yards through the air, good for second in the league behind Peyton Manning. He has a vast array of receivers from which to choose, and a running game good enough to keep the Hawks honest. Tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Marques Colston led the Saints in regular season receptions with 86 and 75 respectively. Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram provide a sort of thunder and lightning attack from the running back position.
Known for their offense, New Orleans' defense was a pleasant surprise for fans of the fleur de lis. The Saints ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense, just three places behind the league's stingiest defense...which resides in Seattle.
Defensively the Seahawks, led by loquacious defensive back Richard Sherman, look to stymie the visitors from the Crescent City, like they did just over a month ago. Sherman, far and away the NFL's leader in interceptions with eight (second most was five) will look to lay big ole' licks on Saints receivers, and pluck balls meant for his foes out of the sky.
Offensively the Seahawks have been good, without being great. The return of wide receiver/ kick returner Percy Harvin could turn good into super. And super is exactly the word that the Seahawks, and their fans, dream about when they close their Seahawks shades, cover up with their Seahawks blankies and go to 12th Man sleep.
Las Vegas lists the Seahawks as a 7.5 point favorite. Until the Seahawks prove a negative I say ride those blue birds to the winner's window. Lay the points.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. PST and the game can be seen on Q13Fox in western Washington. The weather forecast is for steady rain and winds gusting to 28 mph. It's football weather, y'all. Welcome to Seattle.