The Seahawks are once again in the playoffs — that’s becoming a habit under Pete Carroll, seeing as how he’s taken them there in three of his four seasons as head coach — and better yet, they’re playing at home against a team they completely dominated during the regular season. If the road to the Super Bowl is going to run through Seattle, then the first mile of it will need to be paved over the backs of the New Orleans Saints.
Granted, the Saints are no pushovers. Drew Brees and his arsenal of receiving threats have once again combined to give them one of the top passing offenses in the league (4th in touchdown percentage, 3rd in passer rating, 4th in interception percentage, 6th in yards per attempt), and new DC Rob Ryan has finally given them a reliable defense (4th in points allowed), and the 185 yards rushing they put up last week against the Eagles’ top ten run defense will likely make them confident that they can do the same against the Hawks.
But as good as the Saints are this year, the Seahawks are as good or better. Russell Wilson doesn’t sling the ball as much as Brees does, but he’s made every throw count (2nd in TD %, 5th in passer rating, 10th in INT %, 2nd in yds/att), plus he’ll be complemented by a rushing attack that’s been good all season long, not just last week. Seattle finished the season 13th in rush yds/att, 4th in rush yds/G, and 14th in rushing TDs — compare that to 25th in yds/att, 25th in yds/G, and 23rd in rushing TDS for New Orleans. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of the Hawks having the number one ranked scoring defense and pass defense in the NFL plus a top ten run defense.
And while the Saints fought their way to a win against Philadelphia on the road last week, CenturyLink Field is an entirely different beast than the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field. Including the playoffs, under Sean Payton the Saints have a 37-31 record (54.41%) in road games, and that record drops to 26-24 (52.00%) when you look at just road games in outdoor stadiums — either way, their record in those games is only slightly better than 50-50. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are 25-8 at home (84.85%) under Pete Carroll, playoffs included, and 15-1 (93.75%) since Wilson took over as the starting QB. Seriously, which record would you use to place your bet on?