I will be blunt. The Seattle Seahawks can ill afford to muck around against these New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. If they want any shot at digging themselves out of a 2-4 hole and be in playoff contention by December, each Seattle player better bring their A game in this one.
A loss against these Saints will put them at 2-5 in a division that has the Arizona Cardinals currently at 6-0, and the Rams at 5-1. Best of luck catching either team moving forward, especially if both win this Sunday (Cardinals get the Texans and Rams face Detroit).
So, as I look at this match up on Monday night, I very much see a “do or die” game for Seattle. They have to beat these Saints. It’s a must.
A win against these Saints will put them at 3-4 with a really good shot at being 4-4 by next Sunday when they face Jacksonville. Then they go into a bye week with a small chance at getting Russell Wilson back against a very tough Green Bay team and then an even tougher Arizona squad, afterwards. The remaining schedule will offer more “winnable” games, but will also offer tougher matches within their own division.
In short, even if Seattle manages to get to 4-4 by their bye week, any road to the playoffs won’t be an easy one, but at least it won’t be an entirely closed off one, either. After all, we’ve seen these Pete Carroll Seattle Seahawks rally before. Multiple times, in fact.
But they have to take care of business first this Monday Night against a Saints team that is 3-2, and in possession of one of the very best defenses in all of football right now. Given that these Saints are currently in a dog fight for their our division with the Super Bowl winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this game in Seattle is also a very big deal for them, as well. They will want to bury these Seahawks on Monday Night Football, and make a statement to the league that they are a major force to deal with this season.
People are free to laugh at Jameis Winston as their QB1 right now, but Winston has been pretty efficient this season playing within himself completing over 60 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions in a ball control offense that would make Pete Carroll gleam with pride, if he were coaching it. There is some thought from those who cover the Saints that Sean Payton is starting to open his offense more for Jameis now as they are getting further into the season. One would think that against a bad Seattle defense, Payton might decide to let things rip even more.
Ironically, in many ways, these 2021 Saints have a look about them that isn’t too far off from Carroll’s Seahawks circa 2013-2014. Ball control offense built around a premiere running back and efficient quarterback play, and a top rated defense.
It’s also worth noting that former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard is currently the Saints pass defense coordinator. Given all the lamenting over current Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Junior still being employed, knowing Richard was available last off-season for a potential return to Seattle, I’m sure is going to sting for a lot of frustrated Seahawk fans. It stings a lot for moi.
But enough of that.
Seahawks win this game by..
Playing significantly better on defense than they have at any point this season to take the run game away from a very talented Alvin Kamara, and forcing Jameis to beat them with his arm the whole game. Right now, Sean Payton has sorta been nursing Jameis along as his QB1. For most quarterbacks not named Brady or Mahomes or Rodgers, the run game is their best friend. If Seattle can manage to deal with Kamara enough to get Jameis in third and longs most of the night, surrounded by a hostile environment during a nationally televised game, maybe they get Jameis to revert back towards his turnover machine days. Turnovers could give Geno Smith more shorter fields to work with, and that would be a pretty significant advantage.
Geno Smith playing enough within himself as QB1, but not so within himself that he becomes a “Check Down Charlie” against the Saints. Geno is not nearly as talented as Russ. He’s probably not a quarterback who can function well off-script like we are so used to seeing Russ do against tougher defenses. That said, he has an NFL caliber arm and he can throw a nice looking rope down field when he has the play action working. We saw him do this last week against a good Pittsburgh defense. At some point in this game, Geno has got to dare this defense enough to keep them honest. If he doesn’t, the run game won’t likely function, and it’s going to be a long night as a Seahawk fan.
Rashaad Penny looking like a running worthy of a first round pick. The depth of running back for Seattle is starting to look flimsy with Chris Carson on IR, and Alex Collins banged up coming out of Pittsburgh. I’ve thought all along that Collins has been Seattle’s best runner this year. Even if he is good to go against this Saints defense, I’m not feeling great here.
What would really help Seattle out in this one is Rashaad Penny coming in fresh and breaking out with some big explosive runs. For as much of a bust as he has appeared to be as a first round pick, there is no other back on Seattle’s roster capable of taking it to the house like Penny. If we get an explosive night out of him, Seattle can win this game.
Seahawks lose this game by..
Not being able to establish the run enough to give Geno Smith a chance against one of the best defenses in the league. A working run game is going to be Geno’s best friend in this game. If the Saints stout front seven takes that run game away, Geno will be tasked to play hero ball, and it won’t likely be pretty.
Seahawks failing to stop the run game, and that allows the new and improved Jameis Winston to throw darts down field attacking the areas where Seattle’s coverage as been its weakest. I’m almost certain that Seattle needs to use Jamal Adams in and around the line of scrimmage most of this game to slow Kamara, and also send pressure towards Jameis. It’s going to have to be the dice Carroll and Norton Junior are going to have to be willing to roll because teams are figuring out ways to counter Adams on the blitz, and Seattle has not done a great job responding.
I think we could see early success with Seattle playing Adams down low, but I continue to believe that Seattle’s greatest weakness is its depth at defensive tackle. It feels like, as games wear on, these big fellas inside wear down. When that happens, big runs happen. When big runs happen, it all gets pretty ugly afterwards. The Saints have a pretty talented offensive line and a premiere runner. If I am Sean Payton, I am testing Seattle’s abilities up front to hold up for four quarters, and I am looking for ways to take advantage when they send extra to stop the run. Basically, I am licking my chops as a play caller.
This one isn’t going to be pretty, and afterwards, I think there’s going to be a lot of chatter about how Sean Payton has turned Jamies Winston around and is making him the top contender for the NFL’s Comeback Player Of The Year award. I kinda see him becoming Ryan Tannehill 2.0, and this might be the game to really put him in that discussion with the nation watching.
I’m feeling a lot of folks favoring the Seahawks in this one. It makes me question a bit what I’m seeing, or not seeing. My Dorks On Sports podcast pals all like the Seahawks in this one. The guys on KJR 950’s Seahawks Round Table, who all generally seem more willing to show skepticism with the Hawks than perhaps some folk over on 710 who cover the team, seem to favor these Hawks, as well. Perhaps it’s slow start to the season that the Saints’ offense has had with Jameis, and the fact that they are playing without their star receiver in Michael Thomas (and their starting left tackle and center) that has many feeling confident about the Geno Smith led Seattle Seahawks in this one.
I’m looking at the fact that over the last couple games, Jameis has been putting up bigger numbers, though, and that has me quite a bit more nervous. Last week against Pittsburgh, Seattle faced a geriatric quarterback who doesn’t have the arm he once had to test a defense down field, and he chose to dink and dunk against their struggling defense, and it worked enough to get the win. Even without Michael Thomas, Jameis has the top level arm talent test Seattle deep, and even if he doesn’t hit all those passes, that arm talent of his can work to soften up Seattle’s efforts to stop Kamara.
Therefore, I just see the New Orleans Saints riding this one to an easy 35-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. I got that kinda gross feeling about this one.
Ironically, this loss will come against a team that is built to win in a way that Pete Carroll would likely greatly appreciate. They are built to win at the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. They can run and take away the run. They have a big strong armed quarterback who can make chunk plays down field with play action. They can get after the quarterback on defense, and they can take the ball away. I suspect that this is how they will beat these Seattle Seahawks in this one.
What’s also going to be ironic, is that these Saints are one of the four teams that Russell Wilson made public that he would be winning to be traded to last Spring. I am positive that will be made mention on ESPN a time or two as this game wears on. It will be hard to image that Russ won’t be looking at the Saints’ sidelines with his own envious eyes as this game wears on. That’s likely to spark interesting sports talk next week, as well.
Which brings me to my closing question to you all right now. If these Seattle Seahawks sit at 2-5 next week, with the trade deadline a few short weeks away, do they become buyers to try to salvage their season, or to they become sellers to acquire the draft capital needed in order to commit to a roster rebuild in 2022?
If they lose this game to the Saints, I think this is the question all fans should maybe start asking. This is why this game is do or die.