After a wild slate of holiday matchups, Week 13 of the 2013 regular season will culminate with the most intriguing Monday Night Football game of the year between the New Orleans Saints (9-2) and the Seattle Seahawks (10-1).
Both the Saints and the Seahawks are heralded as two of the top contenders in the NFC, but only one team can walk out of the raucous CenturyLink Field in Seattle with the victory. As talented as New Orleans has been, winning on the road this week will be difficult.
The test will get slightly easier for the Saints as the Seahawks continue to deal with injuries and suspensions on the defensive side of the ball, and that could be the window of opportunity Drew Brees and the New Orleans' pass-happy offense needs to shine.
This will be a bitter NFC battle that football fans can’t afford to miss. Here is all the vital viewing information and a full preview for Monday’s marquee matchup.
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
When: Monday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 47
- Spread: Seattle (-4.5)
Saints Injury Report (via ESPN)
Tyrunn Walker, DE, Questionable (knee)
Darren Sproles, RB, Questionable (knee/ankle)
Jahri Evans, G, Questionable (ankle)
Seahawks Injury Report (via ESPN)
Percy Harvin, WR, Probable (hip)
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Questionable (concussion)
Top Storyline: Drew Brees vs. Seattle’s Secondary
Brees is one of the most talented players in the league. With 3,647 yards passing and 28 touchdowns this season, the Saints quarterback has proven once again that he still has the skill and consistency to be one of the top stars in the NFL even at 34 years old.
The biggest question coming into this matchup was about how well Brees could handle the vaunted secondary of Seattle. The second-ranked pass-stopping effort has allowed only 180.4 yards per game through the air in 2013.
Much of the concern was erased when the news broke that both standout cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner (already dealing with a groin injury) would be suspended and neither would be available against New Orleans, according to Nick Eaton of the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
The task is still unenviable with ball hawks like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas still patrolling the secondary, but Brees will undoubtedly be able to find more holes with the passing game and create a more a balanced offense by implementing more play-action.
The Seahawks have been far less stingy against the run, allowing 112.9 yards per game. The steadily improving rushing attack from the Saints has amassed 425 yards total over the last three games and will have ample chances once again Monday to make big plays.
If Brees hits Seattle with the air assault early and often by taking advantage of the missing pieces in the Seahawks’ defensive puzzle, New Orleans' running game will eventually open up and the team will prove its mettle as a Super Bowl contender.
In what will be the biggest upset of the week, the Saints will travel to Seattle and beat the Seahawks in the perfect end to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Brees has played too strong in 2013 to fail against a Seattle defense that is reeling after losing two of the most talented players on the roster. New Orleans will attack that weakness relentlessly, and the Seahawks will find themselves in the unfamiliar position of losing at home.
Seattle has proven its strength as a team mentally, but the suspensions of Thurmond and Browner will rightfully have the players shaken. If the Seahawks aren’t 100 percent focused on the task at hand, the Saints will walk away with a stunning victory.
With the New Orleans defense arguably the most improved unit in the NFL, Seattle’s inability to impose its will offensively and defensive shortcomings will ultimately be the team’s downfall Monday night.
Final Score: New Orleans 30, Seattle 24
*All stats via NFL.com.