January 11, 2014 by Ell and Mike Sports
New Orleans Saints vs Seattle Seahawks
This is probably the hardest game to pick this weekend. Just a few weeks ago the Saints were overrun by the Seahawks and their defense. Drew Brees could not get anything going against the secondary led by Richard Sherman. Brees totaled only 147 yards and the Saints running game was absent the whole game. Brees did not complete any passes over 15 yards downfield the whole game. That was the only game he did not do so, but after last weekend’s game against the Eagles, I believe the Saints feel rejuvenated and feel they learned a lot from their previous meeting against Seattle. Last week the Saints didnt have their best passing performance but showed they could pound the ball, which is somethingf every team will need to do in this year’s playoffs. But I’ll be the first to say that Philadelphia on the road and Seattle on the road are two different things.
It is absolutely imperative that the Seahawks don’t think that this game wil be as easy as the previous game was. That attitude towards the game will have them out of the playoffs today. But I believe leaders on the team such as Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman will have them ready to go. The Seahawks have lost one game at home over the last 2 years at it was not to the Saints. The Seahawks are a very good team but at home they are an even better team. After one week’s rest and Percy Harvin returning, you have to think they will be even better at home.
Keys to the Game: New Orleans Saints
Rob Ryan Must Contain Russell Wilson
In their regular season matchup Rob Ryan could not figure out Wilson as Russell had one of his best games of the season. Wilson completed 22 of 30 passes for over 300 yards. A lot of these throws cam with Wilson rolling out of the pocket where he had very open windows. Rob Ryan must come with a scheme that will not only keep Russell in the pocket but also keep receivers defended for a while because Wilson can extend plays with his feet.
Saints must run the ball effectively
Lat week Mark Ingram proved that he can run the ball in the NFL. He had 18 carries for 97 yards in last week’s win versus the Eagles. Khiry Robinson also added 45 yards on 8 carries. If the Saints can run the ball against the 7th ranked run defense in the league then it will go a long way to them winning the game. The run will open up the passing game.
Keys to the game: Seattle Seahwaks
Russell Wilson must make plays with his feet
In the regular season game Wilson was nearly unstoppable with a passer rating of 139. I guarantee if that happens again then the Seahawks are headed to the NFC championship. Wilson was often on the move throwing through open passing windows. He will have to be on the move in this game because you can bet Rob Ryan will be bringing the blitz this game to keep Wilson in the pocket and not giving him time to make plays with his feet. For the Seahawks offense to be effective this game it will take another solid effort from Russell Wilson.
Seahawks must be aware of Jimmy Graham
One reason why the Seahawks were so good against Brees and that passing game before was because of the fact they shut Jimmy Graham. Even though Graham did catch a touchdown, he only had 3 catches for 42 yards. As we all know Graham is the Saints biggest target and Brees favorite guy to go to. They love sending him of seam routes but in the regular season game the safeties and linebackers made sure Graham didnt have many free releases and when he did there was a safety and linebacker bracketing the coverage. If Graham has a big day then its very likely that the Seahawks will lose.
Prediction: Seahawks 27-20
While I do believe that this game will be much better than their regular season matchup, I just believe that the Seahawks at home are hard to beat. I believe it takes a team complete from top to bottom to beat Seattle. While the Saints are improved on defense and do have a great qb in Drew Brees, I just dont think they will be able to run the ball on the Seahawks. Also be on the lookout for a big play from Percy Harvin who will see a few snaps this game.
Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots
The Colts have to have a bittersweet feeling after last weekend’s game. They surrendered 44 points to a Chiefs’ offense that was missing their most important player, Jamaal Charles. Andrew Luck threw 3 INTs and kept the defense on the field a lot, but in the end the defense made a stand when it counted and Luck kept driving the Colts down the field for TDs in the second half. Luck will not survive 3 INTs against Tom Brady and this offense. Not only will Brady get the ball but he will turn those turnovers into touchdowns. Luck will need every weapon he has at his disposal to beat New England at home but he cant keep his defense on the field against New England.
New England Patriots Perspective
The Patriots arguably have the best head coach and qb in the NFL. Brady has the most postseason wins from and qb ever. And Belichick is a master at taking another teams best player away and forcing you to beat him another way. Even with their number one threat, Rob Gronkowski having a injury laden season they still managed to earn a first round bye. But the Patriots lost a key player over the bye, Brandon Spikes is out the remainder of the season. With Jerod Mayo already gone, look for the Patriots to run the ball a little more just to keep their defense off the field because they will be starting some inexperienced players. Their linebackers will have to be ready for the young and rising tight end Cody Fleener from the Colts. I dont believe the game will come down to Brady vs the Colts but more of the Patriots run game vs Colts. Lagarette Blount came on late in the season and could play a huge factor in this game if he gets going.
Keys to the Game: Indianapolis Colts
Keep Brady on the Sideline
We all know about the brilliance of Andrew Luck and how he can make plays from the pocket but I really do not think the Colts want to get into a shootout battle with the Colts. Even though they proved they could comeback and score against a better Chiefs defense, that was at home. Playoff games on the road are a totally different animal. With the combination of Donald Brown and Trent Richardson that could help milk the clock and keep the chains moving.
After turning the ball over multiple times last week, the Colts can not do that this weekend. It will be imperative that Luck and the Colts hold on to the ball and dont force things because the Patriots will not hesitate to make them pay for those mistakes.
Keys to the game: New England Patriots
Pressure on Luck
Last week the Justin Houston showed what pressuring a good qb can do for a pass defense. They forced 3 turnovers by the amount of pressure they put on Andrew Luck. The Patriots have a solid pass rush attack with Rob Nikovich and Chandler Jones. If they can get a good rush off the edge it could force some bad throws from Luck.
This year Brady has had a decent passing attack but the running game has really been solid. They use a multitude of backs but the one that has emerged late in the season has been Lagarette Blount. Blount is a big physical back who could wear down the Colts defense that could eventually lead to some easier touchdowns later in the game. Watch out for Blount pounding the ball today. I believe he gets 100 yards today
Prediction: Patriots 34-21
I believe that Brady will lean on his run game today and they will pound the ball right at the Colts and it will soften the defense and the pressure on Luck will for some bad throws and allow Brady to be on the field for much of the game