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NFC wild card game

New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks

Betting Line: Saints -10 o/u 44

1/8/11


The Seattle Seahawks are making no excuses for being the first division champions in NFL history with a losing record. They snuck into the playoffs by outlasting the Rams last Sunday 16-6. The defending Super Bowl champion Saints are not taking the Seahawks lightly. New Orleans is playing their third game in 12 days, and are 0-3 all time in road playoff appearances. Last weekend Tampa Bay pounded the Saints 23-13. Quarterback Drew Brees, who threw 33 touchdown passes this year sat out the second half of the Tampa Bay game.

Rookie running back Chris Ivory was injured in the loss, as was Pierre Thomas. Ivory's been averaging five yards a carry and keeping opposing defenses on their toes with his quickness. His loss hurts the Saints, placing the onus of running the ball on Reggie Bush and Junior Jones. Bush has carried the football only thirty six times this season, while Jones has forty-eight carries. New Orleans needs one of them to play well to keep some pressure off Brees who did throw 22 interceptions this year.

The Saints have a quartet of talented receivers in Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and veteran tight end Jerome Sharkey. Defensively New Orleans ranked fourth in the league, a big improvement over last year. Linebacker Jonathon Vilma collected 105 tackles during the season while safety Roman Harper had 93 with three forced fumbles. 

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Seattle coach Pete Carroll is playing coy on who his starting quarterback will be. Last weekend unheralded Charlie Whitehurst started against the Rams completing 22-of-36 of passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. Veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is battling a hip injury, but appears ready to face the Saints. Carroll might be inclined to start the younger and fresher Whitehurst, but he likely remembers that Hasselback had his best game of the season against the Saints in November. Running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for a mediocre 573 yards while wide receiver Mike Williams appears to be Seattle's number one receiver. Williams caught 65 passes, while Deon Butler snagged 36 and Brandon Stokely 31. Fifth year man Ben Obomanu is the only receiver on the team who is averaging over 16 yards a catch. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker David Hawthorn leads the squad with 104 tackles. Free safety Lawyer Mallory has 88 tackles and four sacks.

The Seahawks really don't deserve this game, but here they are, at home no less, against the defending Super Bowl champs. How did that happen? Something is wring with a system that forces the much better team to go on the road and play a team two games below .500 in the playoffs.

Then again, the Saints are not the Saints from a year ago. They just aren't as good as they were. While many "experts" think the Saints are a team to watch in the playoffs, we aren't so sure.

Our number on this game comes in well under the posted line of 10. In fact if you look at the yards per point numbers for the Saints on the road and compare them to the Seahawks at home, the Seahawks come on top. This is a scary game for the Saints, who were unable to put away Tampa Bay at home a week ago. Facing a team with nothing to lose like the Seahawks is dangerous. The Seahawks are much more likely to take big chances here. They are plahying with house money.

The Saints should advance here. But we want no pat of this game from a betting perspective. We'll make this a lean towards Seattle +10 here. But the Seahawks are banged up and simply not very good to begin with, so be careful. Lean Seahawks +10

 

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