The Monday night matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints is a prime time game that will likely go down as the game of the year for the 2013 season. The NFC-leading Seahawks want to stay ahead of the rest of the pack and secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the 9-2 Saints want to shake up the standings and hand Seattle their first home loss in 13 games.
The Seahawks have a so-so offense behind second-year quarterback Russel Wilson. He is small in stature compared to other NFL quarterbacks, but he compensates for it with his athleticism, high football IQ and strong work ethic. He kind of reminds you of Saints quarterback Drew Brees in a way.
Seattle’s offense has been helped by a particularly stingy defense that is ranked no. 2 overall. That defense took some hits recently, however, in the form of player suspensions. Starting corner back Brandon Browner was nursing a groin injury and was not expected to play anyway, but he is currently going through an appeals process for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Walter Thurmond, on the other hand, started serving his suspension earlier this week.
Filling in for Browner and Thurmond are Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead. Lane and Maxwell played in games for Seattle last season during Browner’s suspension last year, while Shead has mostly been a practice squad guy.
I would expect Drew Brees to try and test these guys early and often. Should the Seahawks decide to put Richard Sherman on Jimmy Graham, other opportunities and windows will open up for guys like Kenny Stills, Marques Colston and Lance Moore. Likewise for running backs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, who are often targeted in the backfield with quick throws and screen passes.
Saints head coach Sean Payton is no dummy and is likely aware of the cornerback situation in Seattle. He and Brees will likely test the waters to see if the Seahawks’ secondary can be exploited for their gain.