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.
Brees owns the highest completion percentage (67.0) in
postseason history and is the only QB with three 400-yard games
in the playoffs.
Wilson has 24 overall wins and 15 at home in his first two
seasons, the most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
Saints TE Jimmy Graham had 16 TDs during the regular season
but was limited to three catches for 42 yards and a score by
PREDICTION: Seahawks 27, Saints 17
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