Saturday, January 11, 2014
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Preview: Saints at Seahawks

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[January 11, 2014]  The New Orleans Saints are coming off their first postseason road win in franchise history, but the degree of difficulty will rise dramatically when they visit the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks on Saturday. It will be a rematch of a Dec. 2 game in Seattle, when the Seahawks manhandled New Orleans 34-7 and held the Saints to their lowest point total since October 2008. "This is definitely going to be a personal game," New Orleans cornerback Keenan Lewis said. "They embarrassed us last time."

The Seahawks have embarrassed a number of opponents, particularly on their home field, where they are 15-1 over the past two seasons. Among the reasons for Seattle's dominance at CenturyLink Field is its rabid fan base known as the 12th Man, which set a Guinness Book World Record for crowd noise with a reading of 137.6 decibels in the thrashing of the Saints last month. The Seahawks are hoping to see the return of explosive wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has played in only one game since returning from offseason hip surgery.

TV: 4:35 p.m., Fox. LINE: Seahawks -8. O/U: 46.5.

ABOUT THE SAINTS (12-5): New Orleans' high-powered offense struggles away from home, managing only 36 points in three December road losses before pulling out a last-second 26-24 win at Philadelphia last week. Drew Brees, the only QB with three 5,000-yard seasons, threw for 250 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Eagles but now must contend with a defense that limited him to 147 yards and held the Saints to 188 total yards  the lowest total since Brees and head coach Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006. New Orleans overcame an injury to running back Pierre Thomas to churn out 185 rushing yards against Philadelphia  including 97 by former first-round pick Mark Ingram  while its defense held the NFL's leading rusher, LeSean McCoy, to 77 yards on 21 carries.


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ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (13-3): Seattle leveled off after steamrolling the Saints, losing at San Francisco and falling to Arizona for its first home defeat in two seasons before closing the campaign with a dominant defensive performance against St. Louis. Wilson was being mentioned for league MVP honors at one point in the season but he stumbled down the stretch, averaging 171.3 yards passing and throwing for four touchdowns and three interceptions in the four games following the beatdown of New Orleans. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns but he cracked 100 yards only once in the last eight games. The Seahawks led the league in fewest points (14.4) and yards (273.3) allowed per game while registering an NFL-high 28 interceptions  eight by cornerback Richard Sherman.

EXTRA POINTS

  1. Brees owns the highest completion percentage (67.0) in postseason history and is the only QB with three 400-yard games in the playoffs.

  2. Wilson has 24 overall wins and 15 at home in his first two seasons, the most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

  3. Saints TE Jimmy Graham had 16 TDs during the regular season but was limited to three catches for 42 yards and a score by Seattle.

PREDICTION: Seahawks 27, Saints 17

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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