This week I had the opportunity to talk to John Hendrix, the co-editor of Who Dat Dish. John offered some insight on the New Orleans Saints as they prepare to visit the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.
Here is the conversation:
1. The Saints are known for their offense but how effective can their defense be on Monday?
We’ve seen the Saints defense play some unbelievable games this season. It’s one thing to hold an offense like the Cowboys under 200 total yards of offense, but who honestly thought in back-to-back games the defense would also hold the 49ers to under 200 total yards of offense? I mean, we’re statistically talking about the world’s worst defense in 2012. Rob Ryan has proven that he can be very effective, and it could cause a problem for the Seahawks, unless Russell Wilson tries some type of hurry up (see Tom Brady).
Ryan loves to match up personalities, and rotate everyone but about two guys (Curtis Lofton/Malcolm Jenkins). To think that this defense is tied for the league lead in sacks (37) is quite an accomplishment. It can also be there downfall, as the aggressive nature has hurt them at times. Marshawn Lynch will be the key focal point for the Saints, and they’ve only surrendered two 100-yard rushers (Doug Martin/Chris Ivory) all season. In a way, they want to make sure Russell Wilson has to beat them.
2. We all know about Drew Brees and how dominant he is, but who is a player on the Saints that not many people know about who could end up being a game-changer on Sunday?
Let’s face it, there’s players on both sides of the ball that we are equally unfamiliar with. Last week against Atlanta, Keyunta Dawson was a player that only a handful of Saints fans knew even existed on the team, and he made the play of the game with his sack/fumble of Matt Ryan. Everyone knows a fair amount about the usual suspects like Graham, Colston, Thomas, Sproles, etc.
A guy you might see as the big game-changer on offense is Kenny Stills. With the Seahawks secondary ailing, you can absolutely expect Brees to look his way, as he has filled in as this year’s Joe Morgan. His deep threat and big play ability is one that Brees would love to take advantage of on Monday, but he has to have the time to do that, and I know the Seahawks front four know that as well.
As for defense, I would say Akiem Hicks. He is a huge presence on the offensive line, and a player that many are just now starting to hear about, mainly because of that whole Matt Ryan non-call thing. However, Hicks took over for Kenyon Coleman after he went down in training camp with a torn pectoral muscle, and he has played a major part in the run defense. He’s had 3.5 sacks on the season and he was one of a smidgeon of defensive players who graded out positive last year.
Let’s also not forget the return of the former Seahawk, David Hawthorne. That always makes for a great storyline.
3. The Seahawks have won 13-straight games at CenturyLink Field, but the Saints are the toughest opponent Seattle has faced this year. What does New Orleans have to do to beat the Seahawks on their own turf?
I think it all stems from Drew Brees. We’ve seen road games in which the Saints can get down or rattled early. While they are relentless, his mistakes, or mistakes in general, are usually the difference in putting up a win or loss. Drew Brees loves to audible out of plays when he sees the opposing defense, but with the tremendous noise he faces, that will be something to watch. You know he will target Jimmy Graham a good bit, and in order for everything to happen, it all starts with the offensive line.
If we can get through Seattle without making a mistake, or at least win the turnover battle, I think it’s going to be the difference.
4. The Saints run game averages fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground. How important is it for the Saints to get the run game going? Or will it make a difference with Drew Brees slinging the ball in a pass-friendly offense?
I think it’s imperative that the Saints don’t abandon the run. With the Seahawks defense giving up almost 113 yards per game this season, it plays more to how the Saints should attack. The Seahawks have only given up 180.4 passing yards per game to opponents, which happens to rank 2nd in the NFL. We’ve seen the contributions of the ‘Hydra’ I call it, with Sproles-Thomas-Ingram creating fits for opposing defenses. Should they have success, they’ll likely not change anything. Last time these two played in Seattle, Brees went 39-for-60 for 404 yards and two touchdowns. They passed it 60 times to 22 rushes. Granted, that was with Julius Jones as the featured back (Bush was hurt). Once you stop peeing yourself with laughter from that statement, we don’t have those guys running the ball.
5. What is your prediction for the final score of Monday Night’s game?
I don’t see a huge shootout here, and most of the betting world is giving this game around 45-50 points. I’m honestly looking at this coming down to the final quarter, and it likely is decided by a field goal. I’ve also said in my articles that I believe the pressure is more on Seattle to win as opposed to the Saints going in to beat them. With that also being said, I don’t think this will be the final time we see these two play this year. Either way, this should be an amazing game.
Saints 24, Seahawks 20
Special thanks to John Hendrix and Who Dat Dish for the interview.