By this point and time in the NFL, it has become a cliche to say that any particular team’s running game must show, be productive, control the ball and help contribute or be the contributing factor in a victory, but it means more than ever now for the New Orleans Saints. Heading into the unfriendly territory in the Pacific Northwest to play the Seattle Seahawks once again, this time in the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, New Orleans will need to be able to rely on its running more than it has.
In its last meeting, a 34-7 rout by Seattle, New Orleans ran for just 44 yards while quarterback Drew Brees was limited to just 147 yards and was sacked three times. The usually potent Sean Payton offense went nowhere and the Saints were badly beaten on national television. All in all, it was a difficult game to watch for Who Dat Nation.
This time, however, the Saints can hopefully reinvent themselves by not relying to heavily on their usually powerful passing game, opting instead for a patient and cautious run game behind Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and hopefully Pierre Thomas. Sproles, the versatile back whose kick return in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles last Saturday helped start a game winning drive for the Saints, will be needed for his speed an elusiveness. Ingram has had his ups and downs this season, but has recently started to find a groove and has finally been seeing with this emotion and passion.
Thomas, meanwhile, has been dealing with a mix of chest and eye injuries the past couple weeks and his absence would be greatly missed. Should he sit out, he will be replaced by either Travaris Cadet or Khiry Robinson, both of whom have had little playing time this season, but have shown promise when given the opportunity.
I am hoping New Orleans will mix it up on the Seahawks like Seattle did to the Saints in their last meeting. Mainly, where as New Orleans opted to focus on Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle rushing attack, Russell Wilson was free to torch the Saints for over 300 passing yards and three touchdowns. I would like to see a patient and consistent running approach against Seattle’s formidable defense.
New Orleans was able to do it last week on the road against Philadelphia, and the Eagles’ defense is nowhere near as good as is the Seahawks’, but it is worth a shot.