Authored by Kristina Bravo
The New Orleans Saints heading into Seattle to face the Seahawks is not your average playoff game against the top and bottom teams. Only two wins separate the Seahawks from the Saints, but the home team has a lot of legacy to fight against when facing Drew Brees and Sean Peyton. Few games have two disparate teams as tightly matched.
The Seahawks have a lot going for them. The number one seed has home field advantage in a stadium Russell Wilson has been nearly undefeated in, and the entire team has been nothing short of dominant, which included an earlier win against the Saints.They still have to beat former Super Bowl champs, a quarterback who has held a staggering amount of records in his days, and a head coach that, in his absence last year, proved he is a dynamic head coach that elevates his team.
If the Seahawks want to continue their bid for the Super Bowl, they will have to strategize to beat both quarterback and head coach. The number one attention grabber has been Richard Sherman and the Legion of Doom in the Seahawks secondary, but a bigger key in victory will be Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch keeping the ball in their hands for the majority of the match. Time of possession will be key for the Seahawks offense. If the Seahawks can score points on long drives and keep the ball out of the Saints hands, they will be able to limit Brees’ production and keep the defensemen fresh and feeding off the 12th man.
By contrast, the Saints will have to be working for the exact opposite. In a shootout, the veteran Brees will likely have the advantage. The Saints defense will need to work on turning the ball over quickly to Brees. Easier said than done. Wilson has found a way to thrive under a weak link in the offensive line while protecting him. His ability to move and make plays has kept drives alive and made the less polished Seahawks offense look like a powerhouse. The Saints will need to be patient. A sack is sometimes not the smartest play. Going for broke towards Wilson has burned more than one top defense, and if the Saints can exercise patience and make Wilson find an open receiver, they will have a better chance of getting the offense off the field and keep Wilson from running for big gains.
The Saints will also need to use caution with those receivers. Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and even tight end Zach Miller have had much improved years with Sydney Rice and Percy Harvin injured, each catching 5 touchdowns this season. The announcement that Percy Harvin will play likely has the Saints drawing up a defense for him…but they probably don’t have any need. Harvin’s recovery from injury has been impressive and a let down all at once. His couple of games has been mostly unimpressive and plagued with entire drives of limited or no production. Harvin’s a big name target, but not one with a rapport or health to make him worthy of extra attention for this secondary. Keep a healthy dose of coverage on everyone and pay attention to the tight end in the red zone, and the improved Saints D will fare better.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks defense will need to concentrate on screwing up Brees’ timing patterns once again for success. Teams that have been good at limiting Jimmy Graham from besting them have done so by interrupting his progressions at the line of scrimmage. Sherman can trash talk all he wants, but actual physical, aggressive plays against receivers will be what actually matter most this game.
A slightly less than stellar defensive line will also have their work cut out for them in the Saints backfield. They use so many running backs for a reason. The Saints run game may be hot and cold for fantasy owner points, but are always consistent as a group to get solid points for the team and help in every victory. The Seahawks line gets a lot of flack production wise compared to the secondary, but if they can reach Drew Brees and pressure him to throw picks and pick up the screen passes and limit that production, they can find themselves one step close to the Super Bowl.
Categories: Fantasy Football