Saints / Seahawks Monday Night Preview

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Normally you would have to wait until after week 17 to watch a playoff game. Well lucky for everyone there’s one tonight. This is slightly different from a normal playoff game though. Instead of the loser going home it will be the winner going home. Home-field throughout the playoffs that is. The Seattle Seahawks, winners of six straight, will host the New Orleans Saints, winners of three in a row.
The story of New Orleans under Drew Brees has always been about the offense. This season is no different as the Saints average 27.7 points a game. The Seahawks are right there with them however, averaging 27.8 points themselves. Expect a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch tonight. The beast of a running back is most definitely Seattle’s bread and butter. Lynch is only 75 rushing yards away from his third straight 1,000 yard season and the fifth of his career. A rushing touchdown tonight will also give Lynch ten on the season. It would be Lynch’s third straight season of double digit rushing scores.
It will not be an easy task for Lynch against a vastly improved Saints defense under Rob Ryan. The Saints can penetrate the line. They can bring pressure up the middle as evident by their league best 37 sacks. The defense won’t make it easy on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson either. While Wilson is sixth in the league with a passer rating at 105.1 he may struggle a bit against a Saints secondary that has allowed only three quarterbacks this season to throw for more than one touchdown.
The Seahawks are no slouch on defense either. Seattle is tops in the league at creating turnovers. The defense has force twenty-six of them, sixteen coming by way of interception. The interceptions mark is an NFL best as well. That defense has helped Seattle to a 5-0 home record this season. The streak goes back even further though. The Seahawks have won their last thirteen home games which is a franchise record.
With the Arizona Cardinals loss yesterday the Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight. They will need a heck of game plan to stop the Saints prolific offensive weapons. Tight end Jimmy Graham is closing in on a 1,000 yard receiving season and is tied for the league lead with 11 touchdown catches. Couple that with running back Pierre Thomas coming off his best game of the season. Thomas rushed for 73 yards on ten carries in Atlanta. More impressive may be the five catches for 57 yards he had out of the backfield.
Before the season started I picked the Seahawks to come out of the NFC and play in the Super Bowl. I have no reason to back off that pick right now. In order for Seattle to get through the playoffs I believe they will need the home-field advantage. A win tonight will all but guarantee that. That’s why I’m taking them to win this one 24-17.

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