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Dose: 'Hawks Dismantle Saints

Matchups: Divisional Round

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Evan Silva breaks down all four of this weekend's playoff games and picks winners in his Divisional …

The Seahawks straight-up dismantled the Saints in Monday night’s 34-7 thumping. The game was over shortly after it started. Seattle quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead after two possessions, and Russell Wilson took over from there. The second-year quarterback displayed his pin-point accuracy, scrambling ability, and calmness in the face of pressure on numerous occasions in the national spotlight, just as he has done each and every time in big games.

A couple throws from Wilson really stand out. On a third-and-three in the first half, the Saints sent a house blitz. Wilson and everyone else in the building knew it was coming. He hung tough and delivered a perfect ball to the correct receiver in Doug Baldwin for a 52-yard gain deep down the middle behind Malcolm Jenkins. It was a Drew Brees-esque toss. Another pass that caught the eye was Wilson’s four-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin in the second quarter. Wilson sold a play-action fake to Marshawn Lynch, rolled right, and then delivered a ball across the field to a wide-open Baldwin in the left side of the end zone. It was Wilson’s second 300-yard passing game of the season, and he did it against the league’s No. 3 pass defense and No. 5 defense overall. Over his last four games, Wilson has completed 73-of-100 (73 percent) of his passes for 1,044 yards, nine touchdowns, and two interceptions. He’s thrown his name into MVP mix. The 11-1 Seahawks boast the NFL’s best record and are near locks for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Consider them the Super Bowl favorites out of the NFC.

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Saints at Seahawks Quick Slants

Drew Brees’ 3.86 YPA average was his worst single-game mark since Week 17 of the 2003 season. He also failed to pass for 200 yards, ending a streak of 43 consecutive games with at least 200 yards through the air. … Pierre Thomas’ 21 total yards was his lowest output of the season. He’s quietly been a strong flex option in fantasy land. … Marshawn Lynch didn’t have to do much with Russell Wilson running the show. He’s on pace for 12 rushing touchdowns this season, which would tie a career-best. … Zach Miller had his biggest game of the year. Don’t go chasing it. … NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported before the game that the Seahawks are considering shutting Percy Harvin (hip) down for the rest of the regular season. They’ll make a decision on Tuesday. … Doug Baldwin will have WR3 value for the fantasy playoffs if Harvin is indeed shut down. … Jimmy Graham scored his 12th touchdown in his 12th game. He could have had an even bigger night, but he dropped a pass or two.

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News Nugget #1

Nick Foles threw three more touchdowns and led the Eagles to another win on Sunday, beating a red-hot Cardinals team 24-21. He’s gone 5-1 in six starts this season, completing 63.3 percent of his passes and posted an insane 19:0 TD:INT ratio across nine appearances. Foles is also averaging 9.1 YPA. This has led coach Chip Kelly to commit to Foles not only for the rest of 2013, but for “1,000 years.”

“You know, so, I hope Nick is here for a long time. I’m a big supporter of him, I think he does a fantastic job, but we also know that injuries occur in this game and that’s why I always qualify what I say. I love the kid and I think he’s playing outstanding,” Kelly stated. “He’s the starting quarterback for the next 1000 years here. And if I’m wrong next week, I’m wrong.”

Not exactly a full-out endorsement, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from Kelly. The Eagles are clicking right now and are one of the hottest teams in the league. Fantasy-wise, Foles is a locked-in QB1 for the fantasy playoffs. He gets a trio of NFC North sieve-like defenses from Weeks 14-16 – vs. DET, @ MIN, vs. CHI. Fire him up and ride Foles to a championship.

News Nugget #2

Geno Smith has been benched at some point in three of the past five games. Sunday, he was replaced in the second half by Matt Simms after completing just 4-of-10 passes for 29 yards and a costly interception. Smith has now turned the ball over 23 times as a rookie, which is obviously very alarming.

Monday came along, and there was word that the Jets may be considering starting David Garrard in Week 14 against the Raiders. Garrard quickly came out and informed the media that he believed Smith would remain the starter. Coach Rex Ryan then confirmed it Monday afternoon. Smith will again be on a short leash, while the Oakland defense is a viable streaming option in fantasy.

News Nugget #3

Dennis Pitta (hip, short-term I.R.) has been practicing with the Ravens since November 20. The team has until December 11 to decide whether to activate Pitta or send him to season-ending injured reserve. Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the team will “probably” wait until the end of this week to decide Pitta’s status for Week 14 against the Vikings. Baltimore would have to activate Pitta by 4 PM ET on Saturday afternoon for him to play Sunday. We’d be a bit shocked if Pitta didn’t play against Minnesota, a defense that struggles badly against opposing tight ends. Pitta would almost certainly be limited if he plays, but he’s a worthwhile stash for owners in the fantasy playoffs.

Quarterback/Running Back Slants

The Bears insist Jay Cutler (ankle) is still week-to-week, and they’ll see where he is on Thursday. … Jason Campbell (concussion) has been cleared for physical activity, but not practice. … Ben Tate (ribs, ankle) did not practice Monday. He’ll be fine for Thursday night’s game against the Jaguars as an RB2. … The Packers signed Kahlil Bell. … Coach Bill Belichick said he wasn’t trying to send a message to Stevan Ridley by making him an inactive for Week 13. … The Dolphins say they’ve never discussed what Lamar Miller might be able to do with more carries. Wow. … Trent Richardson played on just 13 snaps in Sunday’s win over the Titans as Donald Brown’s backup and change of pace. … DeAngelo Williams (quad) is expected to return to practice Wednesday. … C.J. Spiller insists his ankle is “fine.” He has a ton of upside with plus matchups down the stretch.

Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants

Cecil Shorts (groin) was limited on Monday. He’ll be a WR2/3 for Thursday’s tilt with the Texans. … Roddy White said his ankle is still giving him problems, but that he’s a “football player.” White is a high-upside WR3 for the stretch run. … Cordarrelle Patterson played on 48-of-88 snaps against the Bears. Jerome Simpson played 42 snaps in what is now a timeshare. … Da’Rick Rogers played on 13-of-65 snaps against the Titans on Sunday. Keep holding Rogers in dynasty. … Michael Crabtree played on 42-of-67 snaps against the Rams in his season debut. Keep treating Crabtree as a WR3. … Coach Gus Bradley said the Jaguars are incorporating more things to utilize Ace Sanders on Sundays. He’s a WR4 in PPR formats. … Anthony Fasano suffered a concussion and knee sprain in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos.

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