NEW ORLEANS Game day in Cajun County, after a night in which, oh, nothing was really going on in this sleepy, quiet town:
Bradley Sowell failed his pregame test of his sprained knee coach Pete Carroll described on Friday. He’s inactive today for the Seahawks against the Saints.
So undrafted rookie college basketball player George Fant starts at the most important spot on the offensive line. He hasn’t started a football game since he played for the Lincoln Heights Tiger in Cincinnati -- that was in a Pee Wee league.
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Every Saints defender back to Rickey Jackson will be trying to rush in at Fant off Seattle’s left edge. Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said this week he’d have contingencies in place to help Fant.
The rest of the Seahawks’ inactives:
SS Kam Chancellor (for the third consecutive game with a “substantial” pulled groin, in Carroll’s word)
RB Thomas Rawls (cracked fibula, return not expected until Nov. 13 at New England, if then)
CB DeAdre Elliott (hamstring injury)
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (sprained ankle)
TE Luke Willson (knee, still out a few more weeks at least)
Here’s my game advance story, focusing on the offense.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-1-1) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2-4)
Sunday 10 a.m., Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: Ch. 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: This is the 13th regular-season meeting. Each team has won six times. The Seahawks have won the two postseason matchups, the "Beast Quake" game in Seattle Jan. 8, 2010, and Jan. 11, 2013, at CenturyLink Field. That’s the last time the Saints made the playoffs. This is the first time the Seahawks have played at New Orleans since Nov. 21, 2010. That’s also the last time Saints beat Seattle. Drew Brees threw two interceptions but for 382 yards and four touchdowns to beat Matt Hasselbeck’s 32-for-44, 366-yard passing day, 34-19.
Line: Seahawks by 2½.
Affect Brees like few do: What makes the 37-year-old QB in his 16th season still so brilliant after nine Pro Bowls, being the 2009 Super Bowl MV and a two-time NFL offensive player of the year is how quickly and accurately he gets the ball out. And to a dizzying array of receivers; a dozen Saints have multiple receptions this season. Brees usually gets the ball out in less than 2 seconds. The Seahawks have been best with ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril plus increasingly blitzing middle linebacker Bobby Wagner blowing through the line and pressuring quarterbacks into distressed throws if not sacks. Few can do that to Brees. Can Seattle do it with Bennett not playing and possibly facing knee surgery?
Do what everyone else does down here: That is, score. Often. The Saints again have one of the worst defenses in organized football. Five of their six foes this season have scored at least 27 points. Atlanta put up 45 on them. The Saints’ nine sacks are second-fewest in the league. They are 30th in pass defense. Even likely behind an undrafted rookie college basketball player debuting at left tackle, if Wilson can throw one pass with his sore pectoral muscle he may throw 35. Or more. Nothing has healed people and offense in the NFL like throwing against New Orleans.
Start early: And not just because it’s a 10 a.m. Seattle time start. The Seahawks’ defense intends to prove there are fine and its usual, dominant unit one week after 95 plays at Arizona. A quick start Sunday – on both defense and offense will keep the often-rocking Superdome muted and the doubting Saints, feeling in danger of slipping to distress at 2-5, from hope.
The pick: This may not be the day the running game gets better like it needs to for later in the schedule. The Seahawks doesn’t need it to be, not with this Saints pass defense that Wilson is going to shred. Seahawks 31, Saints 13.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
88 Jimmy Graham TE 6-7 265 seventh
23 catches in his last 4 games is his best SEA stretch—just in time for his big return to NOLA.
3 Russell Wilson QB 5-11 215 fifth
Playing on after 3 injuries in 6 games. Nothing gets a QB healthy like facing the Saints
35 DeShawn Shead CB 6-2 212 fifth
Brees is no Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s not going to test Sherman a lot. So it’s Shead’s time. Again.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
9 Drew Brees QB 6-0 205 16th
One of the best to ever do it. Russell Wilson calls him a good friend. Saints’ hope vs SEA’s D
60 Max Unger C 6-5 305 eighth
Saints coach says man SEA traded for Graham smartly manages protections w/ Brees. Sounds familiar
29 John Kuhn FB 6-0 240 10th
Not the typical fullback. Brees throws to him out wide, in slot. SEA’s Wagner is well aware.