Game Scout: Saints at Seahawks

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
Monday, 8:40 p.m. ET, at CenturyLink Field, Seattle - TV: ESPN
*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
*Keys to the game: The elements are there for the Saints to spread the field and go into attack mode - they have the league's second-ranked passing game while the Seahawks are minus troubled CBs Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond -- if dome-home New Orleans can handle the Northwest elements. QB Drew Brees has had shaky protection much of the season and Seattle's crowd noise has a tangible impact on the communication for opposing offensive lines. The Saints have run the ball effectively over the past three weeks and Seattle's biggest defensive weakness is up the middle where it has been vulnerable to power runs and tight ends - hello, Jimmy Graham - over the middle. The Seahawks believe their offense is hitting its stride with the offensive line finally healthy and WR Percy Harvin cleared for a full workload. Seattle will pound away at a defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry in an attempt to soften New Orleans' strong pass rush and have QB Russell Wilson get the ball into the hands of playmakers Harvin and Golden Tate.
*Matchup to watch - Brees vs. Seahawks CBs Byron Maxwell/Jeremy Lane: It was exactly this time last season that Maxwell and Lane were thrust into a starting and nickel role, respectively, due to a Browner suspension. That experience is perhaps a silver lining for Seattle, but they'll both be targeted by Brees in the passing game.
*Player spotlight - Saints DE Cameron Jordan: The third-year player is enjoying a breakout year with 9.5 sacks, including 3.5 the past two weeks.
*Fast facts: Brees has a 122.2 passer rating at home this season compared to 89.7 on the road. ... Seattle has an NFL-best winning percentage of .704 on "Monday Night Football," and has a seven-game MNF winning streak.
The last time these teams met, Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run literally registered on the Richter scale. The Seahawks have turmoil in their vaunted secondary, but they have a 13-game winning streak at home, where the fans plan to attempt to take back the Guinness record for fan noise on the Saints' first offensive huddle.
*Our pick: Seahawks 30-24

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