Football fans, what a weekend we have in front of us. After a great trio of Thanksgiving games — if you count the Green Bay Packers getting thumped by 30 ‘great’ — we get a slate that includes to heavyweight matchups in each conference. In the NFC, it’ll be a Monday Night Football clash featuring the 9-2 New Orleans Saints taking on the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
In what will be a much different matchup than we would have seen a year ago, the Seahawks and Saints both come into this game with elite defenses — specifically, ranking 2nd and 3rd respectively against the pass. With this contest featuring two big-time defenses, you can’t forget about the offenses — they’re pretty good too.
Russell Wilson has gotten even better in his second season and leads an offense that focuses primarily on the run, ranking 3rd in the league in rushing yards per game. The Saints, meanwhile, lean on quarterback Drew Brees and their 2nd-ranked passing game to put points on the board.
With the last few numbers in mind, there’s another stat that the Saints can take into consideration when going over their game plan: The Seahawks only rank 16th in the game when it comes to stopping the run. Of course Brees will make plays, but to make it even easier on the quarterback you’d think the Saints would make it a point to run the ball.
Both Pierre Thomas (4.2 yards per carry) and Mark Ingram (5.0 yards per carry) have been efficient when given their opportunities this year, but again the Saints just don’t run the ball very often. If New Orleans looks to establish a run early on, Brees could take advantage and attack Seattle’s defense while they’re kept honest.
For the Saints, I believe this is the key to a victory. Any quarterback can be stopped if the offense is made completely one-dimensional. Brees is one of the best, but if Seattle doesn’t see a healthy dose of the run, he’ll be forced into some bad decisions. New Orleans must get the ball to both Thomas and Ingram right away, even if they don’t break any big ones initially. Wearing the defense down as the game goes on will do wonders for Brees and the passing game.