Posted: 1/10/2014 7:08:03 AM
Okay... I rarely post... but after going 4-0 ats last week, I'm posting my 2 pennies. So I'm taking the live-enough dog in this one, got the Saints with the points... win or lose. My rationale:
1) I have to believe Payton, Brees, and co. won't go to Seattle a 2nd time in as many weeks to perform poorly... the 2nd time could be a charm. The tape has been watched and is worn, lessons have been learned, I will bet the car that a new schematic game plan is in place for the Saints... they're chomping at the bit to get this party going.
2) If a lesser Arizona team could do it to the Seahawks on their turf in Week 16, not sure why the Saints couldn't at least make a game of this? They have the momentum heading in.
3) If the Saints or Chargers win this weekend, they keep an interesting trend alive. In each of the last six postseasons, an underdog of more than a touchdown has won outright in the divisional-playoff round. In fact, favorites of more than a touchdown are just 6-7 overall in this span. Something to keep in mind this weekend?
4) It is in no way Payton's nor Brees' first go at the playoffs, they're 'super bowl conditioned' accordingly to deal with the pending pressure of a divisional playoff game out West. Yes, the home-field advantage is almost overwhelming. But you just had to know that Saints would inevitably win a road playoff game like they did last week as certain trends (road losses) are meant to be broken. Last week, public perception helped have the wrong team favored, Saints win outright as I knew they would.... not saying they will do so with certainty Sat. but I might pull the trigger for the hell of it.
5) Sean Payton, is quite the offensive mind - a calculated strategist, one who has won a Super Bowl already. His psychological approach to winning (especially how he prepares his team) is comparable to none - in my mind. His team will be ready for the task.
6) Injuries? The Saints have them, and like any other high-caliber team in the playoffs, next man up mentality here. CB Lewis expects to play, so a big relief for the Saints' and their secondary representation in this one.
7) I would not be surprised if the football gods intend to have the Saints and Niners hookup for an NFC Conf. Championship rematch... almost as if such a script would be NFL-perfect? Just sayin...
8) Heard that the officiating crew will keep an extra set of eyes on this one, so any prior borderline dirty plays will be called - disadvantage for Seahawks DBs who have gotten away with it... the NFL wants a clean game in this one, with many millions expected to tune in.
9) The Saints defense is helping make this Saints team a viable contender, period. No disputing this.
Judging from Ryan's midweek presser: he's been up all week drafting a better game plan for Wilson and the Seahawks... he's absolutely ready for a 2nd go at it.
10) If the Saints institute a run game like last week, tempo/clock will be controlled. Sure, the Seahawks defense will create some matchup nightmares for the Saints up front, but the Saints could potentially slow down that pass rush with a "gritty" running game that amassed 185 yards last week led by Mark Ingram. Of course, a different D to face in Seattle, but worth noting nonetheless?
11) This is the playoffs. 2nd season. Past performance and prior score/matchups should not influence "perceived" future outcomes, especially when it comes to hardcore playoff football! Entirely different stage, especially from a psychological point of view.
12) Aside from the Saints defense and storied offense, one just has to look at the potential X factor from last week for the Saints... a brilliant (bold & ballsy move) acquisition in kicker Shane Graham because this game could very well come down to a 3pt boot... in the end.
13) Weather theories are over-rated to me. The Saints have played in the elements several times before, especially Brees.... and last week's bitter cold in Philly was no exception... Saints handled it fine.
If turnovers play no factor in this one - then I do like the Saints to keep things close and maybe pull it off. Like the Over and the Saints in an ATS win, win or lose. Seattle 27, New Orleans 24. Good luck.