Saints, Seahawks clash in the sequel
After winning on the road in the postseason last week, the New Orleans Saints no longer have that stigma clouding their franchise history.
Less than six weeks after Seattle made a resounding claim to NFC supremacy with a rout of New Orleans, the Seahawks and Saints collide again on Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff. Since that Dec. 2 matchup in which the Seahawks all but wrapped up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a 34-7 win, both teams have seen some of their definitions changed.
Seattle has lost some of its home invincibility after losing to Arizona in Week 16 to snap a 14-game home-win streak. And the Saints are no longer seeking a validating victory away from New Orleans after knocking off the Eagles, 26-24, last Saturday in the NFC wild-card game, the first road playoff win in franchise history.
There's also a bit of history on the side of the Saints. Since 2005, No. 6 seeds are 5-2 against No. 1 seeds in the divisional round of the postseason.
For the Seahawks to advance, one of the first orders of business will be to contain Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees is not accustomed to being stifled, but that is what Seattle did in the first meeting. His 147 yards passing were a season-low by nearly 100 yards. His 3.87 yards per pass attempt was the third-lowest of his entire career.
But New Orleans has evolved over the last month. The Saints are attempting to become more run-dependent and less pass-reliant. The Saints had 30 rushing attempts in their final two regular-season games, then ran the ball 36 times for 185 yards last week against the Eagles.
Meanwhile, Russell Wilson had arguably the best regular-season game of his career when New Orleans visited in December. He threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, ran for another 47 yards, and completed 73.3 percent of his passes. For Wilson, it capped a four-week stretch in which his name was thrown into the MVP conversation.
Following Thursday's practice, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said that wide receiver Percy Harvin will play in Saturday's game after missing most of the season following hip surgery.
Carroll said there would be no limitations on how the Seahawks use Harvin, including on kickoff returns.