You have to wonder what Pete Carroll is thinking at the Seahawks' practices this week. They're number one in their division, but facing a New Orleans team which, while in second place in the NFC South, has a better record.
The Seahawks have ... a quarterback with a cracked wrist.
Yes, the 'Hawks won last week, but let's be honest here. Who hasn't beaten the Cardinals?
Oh, yeah. The Raiders. (Snicker, snicker.) And the Saints.
The question, then, is this: Can the Seahawks make it two in a row?
I'd like to answer that with a resounding "Yes they can!" However, I'm not that certain of the outcome of Sunday's game. I think they can, I think they can, I think they can. I'm just not sure they will.
Both teams are more or less healthy, Matt Hasselbeck's wrist aside, but New Orleans has had a week off. You can bet they've been prepping for this game. Pete Carroll, on the other hand, has been dealing with...
Raheem Brock. Now, I don't think that Brock is an irreplaceable cog in the Seahawks' game-day machine. The thing is, as I've mentioned before, is that this is a team that plays on their emotions.
Should Raheem Brock be allowed to play this Sunday?
Good publicity, good news, playing at home, these are things that help the Seahawks win.
Negative press during a road trip? Not going to help.
Raheem Brock's recent arrest for DUI is not a major media event, but failing to disclose the arrest prior to last week's game is, in effect, lying to his team. It's going to affect the team, and may keep him from playing this week.
That's likely to have some bearing on the team as a whole.
The game is being played in the Big Easy. We all know the kind of psychological edge to be gained from playing at home.
The Saints have more total yards and more passing yards on the season than the boys from the Emerald City.
Some of the good news is in the rushing game. Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett have turned in four touchdowns to the two credited to Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory. This represents a little window the Seahawks might be able wriggle through.
Of course, the Saints will be bringing Reggie Bush back for this game. This does not bode well for the Seahawks' suspect rushing defense, as Bush is known to be a big play-maker.
The other side of that particular coin, of course, is that Carroll knows Bush. Knows pretty much everything there is to know about how Reggie plays and what Reggie's strengths and weaknesses are. This kind of insider information could really make a difference.
The best the 'Hawks can hope for is that sitting on the bench recuperating has left Bush a little tired and a little behind. If they can keep him from catching up, they have a prayer of shutting him down.
Of course, all the numbers and stats and projections in the world aren't going to determine the outcome of this—or any—game. Who plays the game and how they play will be the deciding factors, obviously.
To quote Hamlet (not a football fan, but a pretty introspective guy), "Aye, there's the rub." Because with Seattle, you just never know who's going to be playing.
Or will we see the Seahawks who surprised the 49ers and gave us an exciting and unexpected win to start the season with?
Will Matt Hasselbeck spend the game upright and throwing the ball, or looking at the ceiling of the Superdome from flat on his back? Hey, it's a valid question.
The Seahawks-Saints match-up is important for both teams. It's late in the season, and if the 'Hawks want to make a run for the post season, they've got start winning consistently.
The Saints could use a win to help them catch the Atlanta Falcons in their quest for a second straight division title.
It's the time of year when it starts getting seriously serious, folks.
We can only hope the good Seahawks show up and do us proud. I am not expecting the game to be the blowout that many writers and handicappers are predicting, and no matter who wins, I'm thinking it will be a hard-fought game.
By the way, I hear the coffee in New Orleans is pretty good. You know how important that can be.