New Orleans Saints (12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS) ATS)
NFC Divisional Playoffs
Date and Time: Saturday January 11th, 2014. 4:35PM Eastern
Where: CenturyLink Field Seattle, W.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: N.O. +8/SEA -8
Over/Under Total: 46.5
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The New Orleans Saints were a bit out of character last
week in their road trip to Philadelphia. Quarterback Drew Brees did not
have to throw for 300 yards with several touchdowns and the offense did
not have to score 30 plus points. Instead the Saints relied on a strong
running game behind Mark Ingram and a gutsy defensive performance to overtake
the Eagles in a 26-24 grudge match. The win was actually New Orleans first
postseason road victory in franchise history and moved the team one victory
away of an NFC Championship appearance. However, the Saints will face an
even tougher road challenge this week when they go into CenturyLink Field
for a Divisional Playoff showdown with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks ended the regular season tied with Denver for the best record in the NFL at 13-3 SU. Seattle will now have the 12th man at their back throughout the playoffs as a result of their number 1 seed in the NFC. CenturyLink Field is largely known as the NFLs most difficult environment for visiting teams. Back in week 13, the Saints rolled into Seattle with a 3 game winning streak but were demolished by the Seahawks 34-7. Not only was it the Saints biggest loss of the season, but it was also one of the worse performances by the New Orleans offense under Coach Sean Payton. Brees and company were held to a season low 188 total yards on offense while the Saints defense was gashed for 315 in the first half alone.
Obviously the Saints have an opportunity to erase that loss to Seattle with a dose of redemption this Saturday but it is not going to come easy. Oddsmakers have the Seahawks listed as 8.5 point favorites for this Saturdays contest. The good news is that the Saints have displayed a lot more physicality in recent weeks which should help them avoid a repeat result from week 13. As mentioned earlier, running back Mark Ingram has emerged as a reliable ground and pound type of runner between the tackles. Ingram carried the ball 18 times for 97 yards and a touchdown in last weeks win over the Eagles. We all know about Brees and New Orleans potent passing attack. However the Saints were not able to sustain drives and gain tough yardage in their last trip to Seattle which left a lot of 3 play drives on the table. If Ingram can continue to run well, it could open things up for TE Jimmy Graham and WR Marques Colston down the field.
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Obviously points will be tough to come by for New Orleans so keeping drives alive will be critical to their chances of a victory. Seattle owns the top rated defense in the NFL holding opponents to just 273 total yards and 14.4 points per game. The Seahawks are exceptional against the pass with All-Pro cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. I would not necessarily Seattle has any true defensive weaknesses but they have been most vulnerable against the run. The Seahawks gave up several big numbers on the ground this season which is another reason why I believe New Orleans will try to run the football this Saturday.
On the other side of the ball, Seattle will surely put the ball in the hands of their workhorse and running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch touched the ball 301 times (2nd most in NFL) this season for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Saints ranked 2nd against the pass behind Seattle yielding just 194 yards per game. Therefore, if the Saints can keep Lynch bottled up they should be able to make things difficult for quarterback Russell Wilson and an average Seahawks receiving corps which would keep things very interesting.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Weather looks to play a big part in this weekends game with heavy rainfall expected. I would jump on the under 46.5 as they number will likely come down throughout the week. Both teams will look to run the ball and I believe this game will be about the defenses. The rain just helps. Take the under 46.5