New Orleans Saints (11-5 SU, 7-9 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (7-9 SU,
7-9 ATS), NFC Wildcard Round, 4:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 8,
2011, Qwest Field, Seattle, Wash., TV: NBC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: N.O. -10.5/SEA +10.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
The National Football Leagues Wildcard Weekend kicks off in grand
style Saturday on NBC with a game nobody is overly excited to see
really, when the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints
travel to take on the de facto winners of the NFC West, the Seattle
Seahawks, in the Seahawks fine home of Qwest Field.
Part of the charm of the NFL playoffs is that it puts the leagues
best teams head-to-head against each other for the chance to raise
the Lombardi Trophy, but theres not really anyone outside of the
Seattle locker room that can honestly say the Seahawks are one of the
leagues best teams.
They did win the West Division with a methodical but unimpressive, 16-6, victory over the St. Louis Rams last Sunday in primetime on NBC
to earn the final playoff spot in the NFC with a lousy 7-9 record.
But aside from the games opening drive that ended in a touchdown,
Seattle and their backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst basically won
the game because of the Rams equal inability to do much of anything,
and not because they went out and controlled the game from start to
For their victory the Seahawks get to host the defending champion
Saints, who dropped to the No. 5-seed in the NFC bracket due in part
to their stumbling ways down the stretch, losing two of their last
three including an embarrassing loss to the much-hungrier Tampa Bay
Bucs at home in the Superdome in last weeks finale, 23-13.
Of course the Saints will argue the losses were to good teams (24-10
at Baltimore and last week vs. Tampa Bay), and that they are tested
and ready to play more like the team that beat Atlanta in the Georgia
Dome the week before (17-14) to try and defend the title.
So far the oddsmakers in Las Vegas agree with the defending champs,
listing the Saints as high as 10.5-point favorites on the board when
the point spread opened late Sunday night. Most of the early money
has been on the Saints, driving the number up to as high as 11 and even 12 point favorites at a few of
the bigger offshore sportsbooks on the Internet.
The over/under total opened at 44.5 and has gone up the hook to 45 at
a few sportsbooks, but a large majority of them are still sitting
square on 44.5 waiting for some late-week interest on the over or
under bet in order to move off the number.
Its hard not to like the way this game stacks up in the Saints favor
on offense, because even though Drew Brees had a very sloppy season
(22 interceptions, six in the past four weeks), he is still a proven
notch above the Seahawks signal caller across the field. Depending on
whether its Whitehurst (57.5 comp %) or veteran Matt Hasselbeck
(59.9 %, 17 INT), who is listed as probable on the injury report but
is nursing a broken wrist and hip injuries and is one good playoff
knockdown from needing Med-alert to get up.
The biggest key on offense for both teams is how many of the walking
wounded can continue throughout the full 60 minute game. New Orleans
should regain the services of No. 1 wideout Marques Colston, but hes
joined by TEs Jeremy Shockey, Jimmy Graham and David Thomas and
running backs Pierre Thomas and Christopher Ivory on the injury
report, all of them listed as questionable and one snap away from
doubtful during the game.
Seattle will be facing the Saints pass rush with tackles Chester
Pitts and Russell Okung dinged up and not at full strength, a
terrible proposition especially for Hasselbeck and his glass hip.
Pitts was taken out of last weeks game with a concussion and theres
no telling if hell even be cleared at all, so you can expect the
Gregg Williams-led Saints defense to be schemed to take advantage of
the Seahawks problems on the edge.
Saturdays tilt between the Seahawks and Saints will be a rematch of
a game the Saints won back on week 11 in the Superdome, 34-19. Brees
threw for 382 yards and four scores and the Rams defense put up
little resistance as the Saints covered the very similar point spread
of minus-11 back on the week before Thanksgiving. The Saints only
trip to Seattles Qwest Field was in 2007, a 28-17 win for the Saints
as 5.5-point underdogs on the road.
If youre a fan of betting trends you might like to wager on the over. The over is 5-1-1 in the Saints last seven playoff games, and
its also 4-1-1 the last six time the Seahawks were listed as the
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: There is no way I lay the points in this game. It’s either Seattle or pass. Qwest Field is the loudest stadium in the NFL and that’s rough for road teams to deal with. The Saints are surely the superior team here but a double digit home dog in the NFL playoffs is quite possibly the tastiest proposition I’ve heard all year. I might even put lunch money on the moneyline as well.