The Seattle Seahawks (10-1) play host to the New Orleans Saints (9-2) Monday night with a whole lot at stake.
Everyone knows that playing at home come playoff time means a lot. Because of the huge advantage the Saints have in the Superdome, earning home-field advantage in the postseason could make all the difference for New Orleans.
Under Sean Payton, the Saints have never lost a home playoff game and have never won a playoff game on the road, other than winning the Super Bowl title in 2009 in Miami.
It won’t be an easy task against the Seattle Seahawks.
Just like the Saints have a great home-field advantage in New Orleans, Seattle has the same at their place.
They also have one of the most talented rosters in football to back them up.
The Seahawks feature one of the premier runners in the game in Marshawn Lynch, one of the top young quarterbacks in the business in Russell Wilson and one of the most feared receiving/return men in the game in Percy Harvin.
They also have one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL and the best secondary in the league led by Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The Seahawks defense has given up just 179 points in 2013, the second least amount in the NFC this season behind the Carolina Panthers.
The match up to watch is how well the Saints receivers can get separation from the best defenders in the league in one-on-one matchups at crucial times during a game.
We all remember the 2010 playoff game in Seattle.
The Saints lost that football game 41-36, so it was not a case of the offense not scoring enough to win, but the defense just couldn’t stop the Seahawks offense that day.
However, this Saints defense is far better than the one that hit the field in 2010.
Right now the Saints feature the best young tandem of defensive ends in a 3-4 defense in the NFL in Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan.
Jordan is playing at a Pro Bowl level and has recorded 9 ½ quarterback sacks. He leads a unit that has totaled 37 sacks with five games left to play. The most a defense in the Sean Payton-era has ever recorded during a season was 38 back in 2006.
This season the Saints are also playing great red zone defense. They have only given up 21 touchdowns in 2013.
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is making it work with many of the same components that gave up 56 touchdowns to opponents in 2012.
Jordan, Hicks, John Jenkins, Brodrick Bunkley, Glenn Foster, Junior Galette and Tom Johnson have given the Saints great play upfront. Other than the game against the New York Jets, this unit has played at levels even the most optimistic Saints fan couldn’t have imagined.
However, what gives the Saints the best chance to pull off the upset, and eventually win the NFC South Division, is that the team has Drew Brees and the Seahawks and Panthers don’t.