With the New England Patriots on a bye this week before their matchup next Sunday night (4:30 EST, CBS), this preview will focus on the other four matchups being played this weekend. Let’s start with the Saturday games:
Saints at Seahawks (4:30 EST, NBC): Everyone thinks this game is going to be a blowout and rightfully so. The Seattle Seahawks come into this game as the NFC West champions, but with the worst record of a division winner in NFL history. In order for Seattle to have a chance in this game, Matt Hasselbeck has to get the start. In a 34-19 loss to the Saints in Week 12, Hasselbeck threw for 366 yards and one touchdown. He has been to a Super Bowl, while Charlie Whitehurst has not started many regular season games, much less a playoff game.
The key in this game is going to be in the running game. For Seattle, they have a decent running back in Marshawn Lynch that can take some pressure off of the passing game and keep Drew Brees on the sideline. The running game was atrocious in the first meeting, so Seattle needs to run and control the clock.
As for the Saints, they need to find some resemblance of a running game, because they don’t have many healthy running backs left. Christopher Ivory and Pierre Thomas are now on injured reserve, so Reggie Bush and Julius Jones will need to provide some sort of balance to help Drew Brees avoid pressure. Seattle is 13th in sacks in the NFL and did get after Sam Bradford at times on Sunday.
Prediction: Seahawks hang around for a half, but Drew Brees is too much for Seattle. Saints 31 Seahawks 13