New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks Total
Opening Line: Seattle -8
New Orleans won a nailbiter over Philadelphia last Saturday, escaping with a 26-24 victory. Seattle had a bye last week. The Seahawks blasted the Saints 34-7 at home in week 13.
While New Orleans won last week, their offense again performed below what they do at home. Now they have to contend with the deafening noise at Centurylink Field. They didn't handle it well this season and didn't in a memorable 2011 playoff loss. The running game performed efficiently last week but now must face the stingy run defense of Seattle. The Seahawks front seven are very aggressive and swarm to the ball and we don't think the Saints will be able to dominate like they did last week. QB Drew Brees hasn't played well in his last two trips to Seattle and the noise helps negate audibles. TE Jimmy Graham is the big weapon for New Orleans but he was held to three catches in the previous meeting and will have to battle SS Kam Chancellor again. Starting CBs Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell have combined for seven interceptions in the past three games (the team has 11 over that span) and Brees has thrown multiple interceptions in three of his past four games and can't allow frustration to get the better of him. The Seahawks totaled 44 sacks this season and usually get decent pressure on the QB.
There is no secret as to what Seattle wants to do on offense. The legend of Beast Mode was born in the 2011 contest and look for RB Marshawn Lynch to be the focal point of the offense again. He tallied 1,257 yards rushing and 12 TDs this season and will be coming at New Orleans all game. QB Russell Wilson remains a dangerous runner as well, gaining 539 yards. The passing game averaged a mere 202 yards per game, 105 less than the Saints. Wilson doesn't have a bunch of established targets to throw to but WR Golden Tate stepped up this season. WR-RS Percy Harvin may play in this game but could be limited to return duties (check status). After the earlier matchup, Seattle's offense slowed considerably. They averaged only 19 points in the last four games and lost two of them. Of course the defense allowed only 11 points over the same span. New Orleans ranked 4th in total defense this year and have several players who can flush Wilson out of the pocket. DE Cameron Jordan had a field day against the Eagles but the Saints have to guard against Wilson scrambling for big yardage when their pass rush does get to him.
ATS Game Pick
Both of these teams have played in several low-scoring games of late and we see a repeat this week. Seattle has gone under the number in their last five games and while their defense has been strong the offense has suffered without a big-play threat. The Saints defense is much improved from 2012 and they can crowd the line and dare the Seahawks to beat them through the air. We see a low-scoring contest in the offing and will take the Under in this one.
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