Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Final Verdict: It may not be fashionable in today's NFL, but you can still win playoff games by running the ball and playing defense.
That's what propelled the Seattle Seahawks to victory over the New Orleans Saints at rainy CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
The Seattle defense made Drew Brees miserable for the second time this season, while running back Marshawn Lynch rumbled for 140 yards and two scores.
The Saints made a game of it in the second half, but it will be the Seahawks hosting the NFC Championship Game next week after a 23-15 win.
ESPN: Seahawks (12-1)
CBS Sports: Seahawks (6-2)
NFL Network: Seahawks (3-0)
Bleacher Report: Seahawks (10-2)
Overall: Seahawks (31-5)
The New Orleans Saints got their first road win in playoff history last week in Philadelphia, but this week, things become exponentially tougher for Drew Brees and company.
Saturday, the Saints travel to Seattle to face the NFC's top seed, a 13-3 Seahawks team with one home loss over the past two full seasons.
The Seahawks destroyed the Saints, 34-7, at CenturyLink Field back on Dec. 2, but Brees told Brian Allee-Walsh of USA Today that New Orleans learned valuable lessons from that pounding.
"We got to give a lot of credit to them because they forced us to be that way," Brees said. "But, then again, there are a lot of things we can correct and get better at, and I feel like we have."
Bleacher Report NFC South lead writer Knox Bardeen thinks the Saints will pull off the upset:
Sean Payton is one of the best strategists in the NFL, and no team plays better with a chip on its shoulder than the Saints. There’s no way New Orleans, which was embarrassed in Week 13 in Seattle, is going to get manhandled again. Plus, the Saints are coming off a road win versus the red-hot Eagles.
However, NFC West lead writer Tyson Langland and a large majority believe the Seahawks will play host to the NFC Championship Game:
It’s hard not to be impressed by the Saints after their gritty performance in Philadelphia last week. New Orleans’ run game ran wild to the tune of 185 yards and picked up the slack for a struggling Drew Brees. Yet don’t expect similar results this weekend in the Pacific Northwest. The Seahawks possess the No. 1 defense in the NFL and average 2.4 takeaways a game. As long as Russell Wilson protects the football, Dan Quinn’s defense will do the rest.