New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks: Can Drew Brees Through the Rainy City?

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New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks: Can Drew Brees Through the Rainy City?
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
January 2, 2011: Drew Brees focuses on the game in the Superdome. He'll need the same focus at Qwest Field.

“Never underestimate the heart of a champion,” former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich once said.

Those words ring true for me in almost every playoff series. 

Due to the heart factor, in my expert prognostication and bracket glory, the defending champion usually gets a special nod of consideration.

As the defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints have a lot of heart and glory.  My question is do they have the oomph to repeat?  Time will tell, but I can’t bank on it.  There are too many good teams in this year’s NFL playoffs.

The Saints-Seahawks NFC Wild Card clash will start the 2011 NFL postseason.  America is excited as usual.  Seattle could play the role of Super Bowl bracket buster by beating New Orleans on Saturday.  From Qwest Field, starting at 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC will televise the game.

Football is rapidly replacing baseball as the national pastime—if it hasn’t already.  Some will argue it did a few years ago.

I don’t know, but I do know this is an intriguing matchup in the head game department.  The Saints seem to have a huge advantage, while the Seahawks have people calling for their heads.  Seattle shouldn’t even be in the playoffs, if you listen to some disgruntled fans or experts.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
December 27, 2010: Robert Meachem is tackled in Atlanta. He'll need to elude the Seahawks defenders.

This is a battle between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds in the NFC.  Guess which team is the higher seed?  It’s the Hawks.  Now, can you relate to the disgruntled?  To be fair, Seattle proved their mettle in a win-or-go-home showdown on Sunday night in prime time.  They beat the Rams to secure the NFC West championship and the last spot in the playoffs.

The Saints finished the regular season in second place behind the NFC South champions—the Atlanta Falcons. 

New Orleans and Seattle played in the Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010.  The Saints won it 34-19. 

Drew Brees threw four touchdowns and passed for 400 yards.  With two interceptions from Brees, the Hawks defense had something to hang their helmets on.

Running back Chris Ivory rushed for 99, meanwhile, and Marques Colston had over 100 receiving yards.  Robert Meachem and Colston both had two touchdown catches.

On the Seahawks side of the paint, with one touchdown pass, Matt Hasselbeck put up over 360 yards through the air.  Up to then, it was the most allowed by the Saints then-No. 1 ranked NFL pass defense. 

In the game, Seattle lost two fumbles and had four field goals.  Running the ball for 58 yards on 17 carries, it was a microcosm of the Seahawks rushing game. 

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
January 2, 2011: Pete Carroll exhorts his team in Seattle. He'll need another win or go home effort from them.

The Saints were 7-3 and Seattle was 5-5 after the New Orleans victory.  The score was 35-16 at halftime, and it was garbage pass game time for most of the second half.

As the No. 3 ranked passer in the NFL in terms of yards, Brees is on track to do what he did last year.  He won the Super Bowl and became a legend in New Orleans.

Fans and analysts will be watching for aggressive schemes from his coach, Sean Payton.  Brees picking apart his opponent’s secondary is always entertaining. 

Many feel the Seahawks should be hosting a game-watching party rather than a Wild Card game.  They could feel disrespected and respond with a good game.

The Saints (11-5) could do what they did a lot of last year during the regular season.  Getting this game over in the first quarter, New Orleans could build a big lead.

If that happens, then the Seahawks could be packing their lockers at halftime.  Pierre Thomas, Julius Jones, Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush could crank it up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Bush had a runback for a score. 

Up until the Rams game, Seattle’s defense had been virtually nonexistent.  Their performance against whiz kid Sam Bradford impressed me.  I’m not sure, however, if they are capable of beating a playoff savvy team like the Saints.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
November 21, 2010: A Saints cheerleader gets loose in Louisiana. A lot of cheering from them will be needed in Seattle.

Hasselbeck could be back under center, but what will it matter if Mike Williams is blanketed?  Speaking of blanket, here is my coverage and forecast on how this game will go. 

Prediction

I don’t foresee a lot of fair catches, field goals or fourth-and-ones coming from the Seahawks in this game.  But, I do see several tailbacks, tight ends and touchdowns coming from the Saints.

The question is, will the Saints be able to run the ball when they have to?  Will they have the oomph?  The answer is a resounding “yes.” 

They have a plethora of ball carriers to get the job done.  The Seahawks, meanwhile, sport the worst ranked defense left going into the postseason.  They were 27th out of 32 NFL teams at the end of the regular season.

The Saints may not be as hungry to win a Super Bowl for the Big Easy.  Katrina has become somewhat of a forgotten news tidbit, but Brees and the Saints still remember.  They’ll have enough hunger and motivation to throttle Seattle. 

The Saints are ranked No. 3 in total defense among playoffs teams, behind only Pittsburgh and New York.  One of the most feared teams in the playoffs; they’re taking a different route to the Super Bowl this year.  With their blitzes and pieces coming together in pressure time against a first-year coach, this game could get ugly.

Kurt Warner believes the Saints are playing their best football of the year, and I’m with him.  The Saints will overwhelm the Seahawks and move on to face their division rivals, the Falcons, in the Georgia Dome next week.

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