Seattle Seahawks-New Orleans Saints: Consistency is the Key to Victory

Riddled with injuries, under new leadership, and with a rotating roster the Seattle Seahawks have been anything but consistent this season.  They’ve had big wins and bigger losses both on the road and at home.  They’ve had countless different starting O-line configurations.  They haven’t yet found the balance between the passing game and the running game.

This Sunday, as the Seahawks travel to New Orleans to take on the reigning Super Bowl Champions in the Superdome, consistency is what the Seahawks will be looking for.

Seattle has already exhibited the keys to victory in various games this season.  This weekend’s game is about pulling those details together and setting the stage for the rest of the season.

Return of Russell Okung

Headlining this week’s game is rookie left tackle Russell Okung.

Russell Okung has been ruled out by injuries for all but one game this season and that one game is the Seahawks’ most cohesive.

Though it is bold to say that a single rookie who we’ve seen in NFL action just one time is the difference maker for the Seahawks, it’s bolder not to notice the significant role he plays in the success of the running game, or to ignore Okung’s effectiveness against the Bears’ Julius Peppers.

Week 6 against the now NFC North-leading Chicago Bears was the only week Seattle was able to reach the full potential of the Forsett-Lynch duo.  Forsett accumulated his highest single-game yardage of the season in Chicago and Lynch recorded his first touchdown of the season.

They were electric and fun to watch.

Okung is also more than vital in pocket protection.

Nobody wants a repeat of Week 7 at Oakland.  Very few would like to sit through another game without Hasselbeck.  With Hasselbeck’s cracked left wrist, he won’t be as resilient as he would otherwise be and will need that extra protection on the left side.

New Orleans has the No. 1 ranked pass defense in the league and 19 sacks to go with it.

Okung illustrated his worth against Peppers in Week 7 and will show us again why we missed him.

Matt Hasselbeck

Matt Hasselbeck had his best game of the season last week in Arizona throwing for 333 yards—and that’s without playing for a large chunk of the third quarter.

He was able to work around (almost literally) the porous O-line and find his receivers and tight ends on long routes.  He and Bates seemed to have come to an agreement on pace and play-calling.

Fans can look to Hasselbeck’s stoic performance last weekend for hope that Seattle’s offense can stand up to New Orleans’.  Look for more deep balls to Mike Williams, Chris Baker, and Ben Obomanu.

With Hasselbeck’s cracked left wrist, Bates will likely get creative with the plays in order to keep the running game involved while protecting Hasselbeck for the rest of the season.

Leon Washington

Every week Leon Washington is a factor for the Seahawks.  He is the league’s leading punt returner averaging 23.8 yards per attempt and is averaging 31 yards per kick return.

The Seahawks’ offense is the underdog here.  Field position will be needed to give them a boost.

Plus, the Saints have struggled on special teams in the past.  This season they’ve given up 851 yards on 36 returns (23.6 average).  Washington can, and will, capitalize on that.

Defense

Seattle has largely been carried by their defense this season and last weekend the defense gave a creative, inspired performance.

A lose, shifty configuration drew false starts and errors from the Cardinals.

Aaron Curry had a break-through performance, reminding people why he was a first round draft pick just two years ago.  He logged a team-leading eight tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble.

Curry’s performance tells us that Carroll’s defense is starting to function more like the way he envisions it.

Earl Thomas also recorded eight tackles and has four interceptions on the season.

Chris Clemons leads the team with seven-and-a-half sacks and is consistent in raising that number week to week.  New Orleans has allowed 14 sacks this season.

The defense can hold the Saints within reach.

Repeat performances

Last week’s game in Seattle illustrated the potential of many of Seattle’s players.

Ben Obomanu’s performance landed him the starting job over Deon Butler this week.  Butler, while he had an amazing touchdown versus the Cardinals has been struggling to gain much in positive yardage over the past couple of weeks.

Mike Williams played through a dislocated finger for career-high numbers.

Jeremy Bates’ creative use of TEs John Carlson and Chris Baker boosted their numbers and earned Carlson a touchdown.

Both Lynch and Forsett logged touchdowns.

The Seahawks have the groundwork for a successful offense.  If each player comes in with the drive and playbook knowledge they had last week, Seattle has a much greater chance of success.

Saints Injuries

The Saints’ injury report lists some of their key playmakers.

Reggie Bush has been out with a broken fibula since preseason but returned to practice this week.  Even if he plays Sunday, he will not be 100 percent and the Seahawks should have no trouble nullifying him.

The second backfield threat, Chris Ivory was limited in practice this week and Pierre Thomas sat out.

New Orleans’ injured running game should be hardly an issue.

Also missing from practice were CB Patrick Robinson, S Darren Sharper, and TE Jeremy Shockey.

The absence of these key players bodes well for Seattle.

Early Season Upsets

If the Browns and the Cardinals could do bring down the Saints, why can’t the Seahawks?

Both teams are 3-6.  Both teams lack leadership at quarterback.

The Seahawks are better prepared, have more playmakers, and this week should show a more consistent level of play from Seattle.

Consistency and the Setting the Stage

If Seattle can bring together all the successful components we’ve seen glimpses of this season, they stand a chance of beating the odds and coming home with a win.

If Seattle wins this game, the rest of the season’s matchups against the likes of the Bucs, Rams, and 49ers will be in the bag and the Seahawks will be headed to the playoffs.