BY Adam Lewis 12:19PM 01/06/2014

Lunch links: ‘New’ Saints marching to Seattle

The Saints, and a growing number in the national media, think New Orleans has improved dramatically since the Seahawks crushed them on Monday Night Football.

The Saints believe they have something to prove after getting overwhelmed and embarrassed Dec. 2 during a 34-7 Seahawks beatdown. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

It took the Saints 46 years to win their first road playoff game. Is it possible their reputation as a pass-first, pass-always finesse team changed in a little more than a month? After New Orleans beat the Eagles, 26-24, Saturday in the NFC wild-card round, the overwhelming football-world reaction was yes. How the Saints prevailed in Philadelphia — using a stifling defense and a sound running game — excited prognosticators.

The change has some wondering if they can beat the Seahawks despite beginning the week as 8.5-point underdogs.

The rematch comes Saturday (1:35 p.m., FOX) at CenturyLink Field.

It’s tough to forget the manner in which the Seahawks dismantled at home the Saints 34-7 Dec. 2 on Monday Night Football. Seattle’s No. 1-ranked pass defense held quarterback Drew Brees to a season-worst 147 passing yards. The Saints managed the fewest total yards (188) since Sean Payton became coach in 2006, and the Rob Ryan-led defense let quarterback Russell Wilson have arguably his best game of the season (310 passing yards and three touchdowns), which momentarily made Wilson a legitimate MVP candidate.

A lot has changed. The Seahawks finished the regular season 2-2, and the Saints barely made the playoffs, grabbing the No. 6 seed before using a new formula to squeak by the Eagles in an environment so volatile that one New Orleans fan was spit on.

In the last month, Wilson has been solid but not spectacular, going 59 of 102 (57.8 percent) for 685 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. In the same time, Brees  completed 71.1  percent of his throws (123 of 173) for 1,368 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.

So yes, a few people think New Orleans can come in and pull off the upset.


YourThoughts

  • oldfan

    What I saw Saturday was a Saints team that played a power run game against the Eagles weak defense, It countered their problems with cold weather road games, went against their tendencies, and controlled the clock thus limiting the opportunities for Philly’s high power offense. Hats off to their coaches for a smart gameplan. I’d bet the Eagles hadn’t spent much time planning for the Saints run game.
    Can the Saints win in Seattle? Possibly, I wouldn’t bet against it. It’s the playoffs and we’re down to the four teams that were on top of the NFC power rankings all season, anything could happen. Can they beat the Seahawks with their running game? I WOULD bet against that.

  • poulsbogary

    I am a glass-half-empty guy. The hawks are a 500 team right now. It has taken longer than expected, but the rest of the nfl has finally figured out how to defense russell wilson. I hope the game does’nt come down to quarterbacks.

  • Marcus

    The Seahawks will stop the run enough to where New Orleans has to throw. New Orleans can either stack the box against Lynch (again) and watch us pass all over the place, or they can contain Lynch. They cannot do both. Of those last 4 games, the Seahawks were facing excellent pass defenses in essentially every game (even the NYG are no slouches on pass defense). There’s a lot of talk of the Saints adjusting, but the Seahawks have too. If anything, their defense is playing BETTER than when they faced the Saints, especially against the run. Oh yeah, and there’s this guy Harvin who might play this time too. ;)

  • ll9956

    I believe the Saints have somewhat of an advantage in that they are now a very different team than the Hawks beat last month. The Hawks can’t know a lot about what they will be up against. They have the films of the Philadelphia game, which they should, and I’m sure will, study VERY closely. On the other hand, although the Hawks will surely install some plays that none of their opponents have seen, they are not as different a team as is New Orleans. Go Hawks!

    • Marcus

      Count me as someone that doesn’t believe the Saints have changed. I don’t buy their running game. I’ve read a few comments saying “well, you can’t count on the Saints to stack the box against Lynch again.”. So? That just means we’ll run over them all day. This is on the Seahawks. If they show up, they will crush the Saints. If they don’t, it will be close.

  • zippy

    Frazier did not knock out Ali- it was a relatively close fight.

    • Adam Lewis

      Thanks for the catch, Zippy. I meant to say that Frazier knocked down Ali during the win. It’s fixed.