New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks: NFC Wild Card Playoff Pre-Game Analysis

This has been one crazy season, and with this game, it only gets crazier.  One of the most potent offenses of the New Orleans Saints in past seasons meets a somewhat average team with a losing record, wins the division and a berth in the playoffs.  But it still counts, and if the Seahawks find a chance to win against the Saints methodical quarterback Drew Brees, these playoffs might not know what hit them.  Both of these teams have been battling injuries all season, and the Seahawks acquired running back Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills mid-season.  However, neither Marshawn Lynch or Justin Forsett have replaced Shaun Alexander.  Now to the analysis:

Quarterbacks

New Orleans Saints Drew Brees has not been up to par this year, as he had to deal with injuries to Marques Colston and hybrid wide receiver/running back Reggie Bush.  Saints quarterback Drew Brees currently has 33 touchdowns, 22 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 90.9.  Compared to last season, he had 34 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 109.6 rating.  Whereas last year he was the top ranked quarterback of the entire league, this season he is ranked 12th.  Meanwhile, for the Seattle Seahawks, this season they had to contend with occasional injuries to Matt Hasselbeck and their reliance on his backup Charlie Whitehurst for spot-fills.  But for now, Matt Hasselbeck has a 17 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a lowly 73.2 quarterback rating.  Charlie Whitehurst is worse at 65.5 quarterback rating.  Drew Brees and the Saints get the edge by a fairly large edge.

Running Backs

The New Orleans Saints have developed into a three-running back set, with Chris Ivory as the head and Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush sharing relief duties in their own capacities.  This was due to the injuries suffered in the entire backfield of the Saints, and it appears that Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas are hurt yet again.  Currently, Saints running back Chris Ivory has 716 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns and averaging 5.2 yards per carry.  Pierre Thomas has 269 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaging 3.2 yards per carry.  Lastly, Reggie Bush has 150 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry.  For the Seattle Seahawks, they however haven’t had to deal with consistent injuries, but they had to deal with lack of a running threat. Their primary running back Marshawn Lynch has 573 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Justin Forsett, the more talented back, has all but disappeared.  He does have 523 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns and averaging 4.4 yards per carry to his credit for this season.  It appears that the Saints have the edge in this one, with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush taking the reigns as Chris Ivory gets put on injured reserve. 

Wide Receivers

The Saints wide receiver Marques Colston has 1,023 yards receiving, 7 touchdowns and averaging 12.2 yards per reception, but he had knee surgery and will mostly remain inactive against the Seattle Seahawks.  Lance Moore has 763 yards, 8 touchdowns and averaging 11.6 yards per reception. Robert Meachem has 638 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaging 14.5 yards per reception.  For the Seahawks, Big Mike Williams has 751 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaging 11.6 yards per reception.  Ben Obomanu has 494 yards, 4 touchdowns and averaging 16.5 yards per reception.  Whether it’s Robert Meachem or Lance Moore, the Saints get the edge by a fairly large margin.   

Tight Ends

Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey has 408 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaging 10.0 yards per reception. David Thomas has 219 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaging 7.3 yard per reception. Lastly, Jimmy Graham has 356 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaging 11.5 yards per reception.  All of the Saints tight ends, however, have suffered injuries.  Meanwhile, John Carlson of the Seattle Seahawks has 318 yards, 1 touchdown and averaging 10.3 yards per reception.  Whichever tight end is healthy enough to show up for the Saints, the Saints still get the edge.

Defenses

The Saints defense is ranked 4th against the pass and 16th against the rush.  On the other side, the Seahawks defense is ranked near the bottom, with 27th against the pass and 21st against the run.  The Saints defense gets the edge on virtue of both lowly quarterbacks of the Seahawks.  Neither Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst can find a way to out-pass this defense.

Coaches/Intangibles

Saints head coach Sean Payton had to deal with injuries this season and still scraped a 11-5 record.  Payton has shown he can adapt to adverse circumstances, despite suffering an injury-prone Super Bowl hangover. Seattle’s Pete Carroll has contended with quarterback changes and injuries.  Carroll’s insistence on using Marshawn Lynch as the primary running back will hurt him, especially in this game.  Payton gets the slight edge because of his adaptability and creativity.

The Edge

The edge will still have to go the Saints: 34-17.  The Saints defense will step up when it counts, and Drew Brees will find a way to keep the Seahawks in the rearview mirror.   

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