Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
By John Mullin
The Seattle Seahawks made dubious NFL history of a sort by becoming that largest home underdog in playoff history when the New Orleans Saints were installed as 10-12-point favorites despite their playoff game being staged in one of the most difficult venues of all for a visiting team.
But when you get in the playoffs, you get one of those hats, and your records not on there, it says Division Champion, said Herm Edwards, ESPN analyst and former NFL player and coach. No one really cares about the below .500 record. We care, but it happened, so now they have to go play.
Good thing for them is that theyre playing at home. Theyre the team that everyone has frowned onThey are a team that has to use their advantage at home. Theyve got to use that crowd.
The reasons for this game shaping up as a Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson situation are pretty simple: Seattle not only is 7-9 but its nine losses have all been by 15 points or more. Seattle did, however, upend two teams with winning records: Chicago and San Diego.
The problem there is that the Seahawks were on their way to a 4-2 start when they put up those victories. When Seattle went to New Orleans in late November, the Seahawks were crushed 34-19 by a Saints team that did not have Reggie Bush, Jeremy Shockey and Pierre Thomas yet still saw Drew Brees throw for 382 yards.
Matt Hasselbeck (hip injury) will start for Seattle, he does have Super Bowl and playoff experience, and he did ring up more than 300 passing yards when the two teams played this season.. But he threw 12 touchdown passes vs. 17 interceptions.
Hasselbeck, 35, could be playing in his final game as a Seahawk. The organization made massive changes starting right from the outset of the offseason, beginning with new head coach Pete Carroll, and the process of coming together has been difficult.
I think the guys weve brought in have really helped us, talented, pros, guys you can count on, Hasselbeck said. Its been kind of fun in a way
New Orleans has taken hits in the running game with injuries to Thomas and Chris Ivory, who combined for 7 rushing touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards. And perhaps most notably, the Saints are one of only three teams in the playoffs with a minus-turnover ratio (minus-6).
Seattle, however, is one of the other two at minus-9. (Indianapolis is the third).
The Seahawks leading rusher, Marshawn Lynch, managed all of 573 yards on the season, the obvious reason why Seattle ranks 31st in rushing yards for 2010. We need to get our running game going, Carroll said. We need to crank it up and he can be a big factor in that as well as the guys up front.
If Brees slips up and commits a turnover or two that hands the Seahawks a short field, the Saints could be in trouble. That may be enough for Seattle to threaten but the firepower even with a New Orleans team speckled with injuries is too much.
New Orleans 27 Seattle 20
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.