For their first start without Drew Brees due to injury since 2015, New Orleans faces an uphill battle even beyond that unfortunate injury. After a sloppy loss to the Los Angeles Rams six days ago, the Saints stayed on the west coast and practiced near the University of Washington campus to better prepare themselves for tomorrow’s game. They were not able to spend time at home during this week, a tough adjustment for an already tough regime to get right against a team like Seattle.
It is always interesting to see how oddsmakers decide on the over/under, but it makes more sense the deeper you dive. For instance, this week’s Saints vs Seahawks matchup has an over/under of 44.5 points. It seems fairly low given the circumstances preceding this game. The Saints have not gone into a game with an over/under that was less than 52 this season, let alone less than 45. Seattle’s lowest over/under (last week against Pittsburgh) was 45.
But, it’s definitely a number that’s on the fence for being spot-on, especially when you consider the total combined scores for both teams this season. The Saints and Texans combined for 58 points, and the Saints combined with the Rams for a total score of just 36. Seattle defeated Cincinnati week 1 21-20 for a total score of 41, and combined for 54 points with the Steelers on Sunday. Two scores over 50 points combined, and the other two are below the mark of this week’s O/U. Add in these factors as well: Seattle is fourth in the league in rush defense (57.5 yards per game) while New Orleans is 17th in rushing yards (102.5). The Seahawks are only 22nd in the league in pass yards per game, but 14th in rush yards per game with over 111. Saints defense ranks 17th in pass coverage, giving up 250 yards passing per game, and the rush defense that as so dominant last year is the sixth worst this season giving up over 147 yards per game.
Even though Brees may not play, this matchup seems to be fairly even on paper. When you factor in sacks so far this season, it tops the scale to New Orleans being more competitive than most expect. The Saints are second in the league (behind Jacksonville, who has already played this week) with 9 sacks, while the Seahawks are a T-9th in the league with 6 sacks. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, their offensive line has given up the fifth most sacks this season with 8, tied with teams such as Arizona and NY Jets.
The Saints defensive line may continue to feast this week, forcing plenty of fourth downs leading to punts or field goals. That will keep the scoring low, as will a depleted Saints wide receiver group behind star Michael Thomas. Touchdown-machine Tre’Quan Smith will miss the game with an ankle injury, while Keith Kirkwood has just landed on injured reserve. That means the Saints will call upon veteran Ted Ginn Jr, Bridgewater’s favorite target in TE Jared Cook, and undrafted rookie free agent Lil’Jordan Humphrey who just got called up from the practice squad. It mate get a bit ugly with all those unfamiliar faces getting a massive amount of snaps on the road.
The Saints defense should continue to play up to par, hopefully for the entire game this time. That is, if Eli Apple can handle the physicality and big body of rookie receiver DK Metcalf. Apple has been prone to drawing flags against bigger receivers (as we saw in Week 2), and prone to giving up jump balls to receivers even his size (as we saw in Week 1). Lattimore should step up from his bleak outing on Sunday, and the defense should give Russel Wilson plenty of fits in and outside of the pocket to keep things more than interesting. Gaining first downs may be more of a goal than scoring points tomorrow afternoon.
With the O/U set at 44.5, I am predicting the under. In fact, I am even predicting Seattle to win this game. The final score should be somewhere around 23-19, as the Saints will have to settle for field goals and the Seahawks will score just a few touchdowns and (maybe) finally let a FG attempt go this season.