NFL Week 13 – New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks -5.5 Total: 47.5

Monday, December 1st, 2013 TV: ESPN 8:30 EDT

Russell WilsonFinally, Monday Night Football has a matchup worthy of primetime. The NFC’s two best teams face off on in what could be an NFC Championship preview as the Saints head to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seahawks.

New Orleans will have a tall task if they want to knock off the Seattle at home, the Seahawks boast a league-high 13 straight wins at home, dating back to last season. The franchise has won six straight games and is coming off a bye in Week 12 with a 10-1 record. Their last game was 41-20 dismantling of the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 17th.

Offensively, the Seahawks are a run-first unit but have been putting up huge scoring lines thanks to the excellent field position provided by their defense and the superb play of second-year quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson has thrown 19 touchdowns on the year with just six interceptions and is sixth in quarterback rating with 105.1.

It was thought that Percy Harvin would be a full-go this week after making his season debut two weeks ago, but that may not be the case. It was reported Saturday he suffered a setback with his hip injury and will likely miss Monday’s contest.

Seattle’s defense has been one of the best in the league this year but will be without two key contributors this game. Third cornerback Walter Thurmond was suspended this week for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and the Seahawks are already missing cornerback Brandon Browner with a groin injury.

New Orleans is rarely more than three point underdogs no matter where they play but have been spotted with a +5.5 number in the toughest stadium to play in the league. The Saints powerful offense was slowed last week in an uncharacteristic “grind-it-out” 17-13 win atAtlanta. In addition to Brees’ arm, the Saints run game has come alive in recent weeks with Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram combining for over 100 yards rushing in two out of the last three games.

Darren Sproles is scheduled to return this week after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury. Sproles is considered the x-factor in this offense by many, and his return adds another dimension to the Saints’ rushing and passing attack.

On defense, New Orleans has put together one of the most impressive turnarounds in the league. Last year’s squad was a bottom five unit nearly every defensive category, but this year things have changed. The Saints are fifth in scoring defense and third against the pass. Their one weakness is against the run, where they are ranked in the bottom third of the league.

The Line

The game opened originally with Seattle -6 but has moved down a half point almost exclusively at most shops to -5.5. The total has gone up a point and or so from the opening total of 46 to 47.5.

The Play

It is so tough to go against Seattle at home, but I think this is a premier spot to take New Orleans. Seattle’s defense has not been the top-tier unit we saw in the early part of this year. They have allowed several hundred yard rushers, and even subpar offenses have had some success, especially via the run. Drew Brees is matchup proof even against the league’s best defenses. He threw for over 300 yards against San Francisco several weeks ago, a secondary that is just as talented if not better than Seattle’s. With all the injuries surrounding Seattle’s defense, this matchup is much better than it may look.

The news that Percy Harvin won’t likely play is another boost for New Orleans’ chances. Still, going against Russell Wilson at home is hard. The quarterback has never lost a game at CenturyLink Field. However, I think have to go with New Orleans. Their defense is much improved over a year ago, and I have little doubt in the Saints’ offensive might in this one. It may be awhile before you can take the Saints as +5 underdogs again, don’t waste your chance.

Take the points with New Orleans +5.5 on the road with Bovada.lv.

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