Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Curtis Lofton will have a full plate on Monday night.
Lofton is the heart and soul of the New Orleans defense, and on Monday night, he’ll be the unit’s single most important player.
For starters, Lofton, who has 86 tackles this season, will be required to play a huge role in slowing down the Seattle running game.
Russell Wilson may be Seattle’s most valuable player, but Pete Carroll will be looking to establish a ground game first and foremost. Not only will an effective running game eat clock and help the hard-hitting Seahawks defense stay fresh, but it will also keep the high-flying Saints offense off the field.
Running back Marshawn Lynch spearheads the Seattle ground attack. Lynch has 925 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season, but it's his performance in a playoff game nearly three years ago that will long be etched into the minds of fans of both squads.
Lynch ripped off an epic 67-yard run against the Saints the last time these two teams met, which happened to be the NFC Wild Card Game in 2011. Seattle went on to win the contest 41-36, and Lynch's run has since become legendary.
For New Orleans coach Sean Payton, Lynch's run undoubtedly evokes bad memories, and Payton will call upon Lofton and his Saints defensive cohorts to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
In addition to his duties in run support, Lofton must serve as the Saints' defensive counterpart to Russell Wilson. Lofton is the primary signal-caller of Rob Ryan's defense, and he'll face off with Wilson on nearly every play.
Lofton will have to answer the bell in a big way on Monday night, as he’ll be going toe-to-toe with Wilson, while also attempting to corral Lynch.