It’s probably the biggest game of the 2013 NFL regular season in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints are set to face off on "Monday Night Football" at CenturyLink Field in Seattle in perhaps a preview of the NFC Championship game.
The Seahawks enter Week 13 with the best record in football (10-1) and a three-game lead in the NFC West. The Saints are just one game back (9-2) for the No.1 seed, though they don’t have as much of a secure lead in their division, as they sit just one game ahead of the Carolina Panthers.
A win for either team would put them in the driver’s seat to have the top spot in the conference and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The ability to play every postseason game in front of their home fans would go a long way in getting the winning team to the Super Bowl. There are no teams better at home than the Seahawks or Saints. The last time the Seahawks dropped a home game was in 2011. The Saints are not only unbeaten at home in 2013, but they’ve never lost against the point spread.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they’ll be home on Monday night. The betting line as them listed as 4.5-point favorites. Three of their home wins have come by at least 21 points. They had a near slip up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week Nine, but made a 10-point comeback in the fourth quarter and won in overtime.
For as dominant as the Saints have been this season, they haven’t been nearly as good on the road. They’re 3-2 away from New Orleans, with none of their victories coming by more than one score. On the road, the Saints have covered just one point spread.
Despite the location of the contest, New Orleans might be facing Seattle at the most ideal time. The Seahawks’ vaunted pass defense is somewhat depleted, as two key members of their secondary will be out. A groin injury will sideline starting cornerback Brandon Browner, while and Walter Thurmond is set to miss four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
"We're still trying to work through it. I'll say it again, I've always found myself looking for guys that maybe other people don't see something special in and we take a chance on a guy here or there that needs some extra consideration and care," head coach Pete Carroll said. "And sometimes guys they have issues and things pop up but I've always been kind of hopeful and make guys find the best in them and bring it out. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't."
With a healthy defense, the Seahawks match up well with the Saints. They are second in the league, allowing 180.4 yards through the air per game. The Saints rely on Drew Brees and the passing game for the majority of their points. They are second in passing offense, but could have trouble scoring if that gets stifled by Seattle. Twenty-two other teams average more yards on the ground per game than the Saints.
Betting Odds: Seattle-4.5, 47
Prediction: The Saints might be the second best team in the NFC, but on the road they’ve been no better than average. Seattle’s secondary is somewhat undermanned, but Richard Sherman, possibly the best cornerback in the NFL, will be ready to go. The Seahawks are one of the best teams at forcing turnovers, and Brees threw two interceptions in New Orleans’s last loss. He can't afford to have any serious miscues in a road game against an inspired defense. Russell Wilson leads a balanced offensive attack, and Seattle’s run game should be able to have some success.
Predicted Score: Seattle 24, New Orleans 17