As the New Orleans Saints square off against the Seattle Seahawks in just a few short hours from now, the storylines are virtually writing themselves.
Probable “Make or Break” game for the 2016 season’s playoff hopes.
Revenge for crushing playoff losses in 2010 and 2013.
The Return of Jimmy Graham.
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Brees vs “The Legion of Doom”.
Halloween in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (why the NFL office and Roger Goodell — in their “infinite wisdom” — did not schedule this game for prime time, or on Halloween itself on Monday Night Football, is beyond me).
As always, in our Sunday morning GameDay piece, we’ll take one final look at some of the match ups and things to look out for today that we’ve covered in other pieces this week, how they might turn out, and perhaps a surprising prediction at the end.
And in the spooky spirit of Halloween, we’re giving it a scary twist!
Michael Myers Returns
Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) celebrates after a third quarter reception against the Pittsburgh Steelers at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Pittsburgh, 39-30. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Much like the villainous relative from the famous Halloween movies, Jimmy Graham returns “home” to New Orleans, where he spent the first four years of his very productive career as a beloved member of the Black and Gold.
The tall task of preventing this returning “villain” in a Seahawks helmet from creating mayhem against the Saints, will likely fall primarily to safety Kenny Vaccaro.
The ability of Vaccaro to shut down, or at least contain Graham will allow the other Saints defenders to focus on the other Seahawks receivers and stacking the box against their running game.
Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (92) and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports
There are most certainly past “demons” that New Orleans needs to deal with in this match up.
For most of the past 4 seasons, Seattle has been “the team to beat” in the NFC.
And in the previous 3 meetings that the Saints have had against them, we’ve seen New Orleans get bullied and beaten physically.
This is a Seahawks team that has “been there, done that”, and will likely have an air of confidence entering the game.
Much like in their victory against Carolina earlier this month against a team with a similar style of play, the Saints MUST seize momentum immediately — and match the Seahawks’ physical and aggressive style.
Sep 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks to his players in the fourth quarter of their game against the Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Raiders won 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
There may not be “seven stages of Hell”, or “seven deadly sins” in football, but we have certainly witnessed the Saints lose games in almost unimaginable fashion this year.
The obvious ‘coachspeak’ statements of “Have to Play 60 Minutes”, “Can’t Turn the Ball Over”, “Need to Execute Fundamentally on Both Sides of the Ball”, etc. certainly apply.
Simply stated, this young Saints team needs to ‘grow up’..
Yes, New Orleans is probably less than 10 plays from being 4-2, or perhaps even 5-1, had they gone their way. The problem is that the “good” teams make those same type of plays CONSISTENTLY.
Freddy Krueger vs. Jason
Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the fourth quarter of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Much like the epic face-off between these 2 horror movie icons, the showdown between Drew Brees and his talented young receivers and Seattle’s famous “Legion of Boom” secondary is one that should earn attention all afternoon.
Will Brees be able to “carve up” the vaunted secondary, or will the ‘LOB’ manage to create non-stop chaos for the New Orleans attack.
Seattle will be missing All-Pro safety Kam Chancellor for this one, and the Seahawks secondary has not been the impenetrable force that it has in year’s past.
Make no mistake, however: the young receiving corps of Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, and company will have their largest challenge to date.
They not only need to make plays, but need to do so quickly — as Seattle’s formidable pass rush will likely pressure Brees all game long.
Final Analysis and Prediction
Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints safety Rafael Bush hits Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin after breaking up a pass attempt during the second half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Hopefully you’ve all enjoyed the Halloween movie twist we’ve put on some of these things to look for today.
All of us here at the Big Easy Believer wish you and your children a happy and safe night of “Trick or Treat” fun!
Despite what most of the ”experts” are picking for this game, I can see the Saints opening up the contest in a very similar way that they did against the Panthers.
Brees will find holes in the Seattle defense to make enough plays to win, and the defense will be aggressive against a hobbled Russell Wilson, creating a few turnovers that make the difference.
This team has confidence growing every week; they already know that they can be competitive with anyone, and now they’ll show that they can BEAT anyone.