New Orleans Saints (12-5) at Seattle Seahawks (13-3) (Saturday, FOX, 4:35 PM ET)
Seattle, which won the NFC West with a 13-3 record, is the No. 1 seed in the NFC and has won 15 of its past 16 home games. The Seahawks had six players selected to the Pro Bowl: S Kam Chancellor (2nd), RB Marshawn Lynch (4th), CB Richard Sherman (1st), S Earl Thomas (3rd), C Max Unger (2nd) & QB Russell Wilson (2nd).
“We all believe in what we can do,” says Wilson, whose 24 wins are the most by a quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. “We’ve got to stay focused on the main goal and that’s to win.”
Seattle led the NFL in points allowed (231), total defense (273.6 yards per game), passing defense (172.0), takeaways (39), interceptions (28) and turnover differential (+20).
New Orleans went on the road in the Wild Card round and earned a 26-24 win at Philadelphia. Shayne Graham kicked four field goals, including the game-winner from 32 yards out as time expired. The Saints rushed for 185 yards, the second-most in a playoff game in team history, led by Mark Ingram (97 yards) and Khiry Robinson (45).
“We’re all about the here and now and being in the moment,” says quarterback Drew Brees, whose 102.1 career postseason passer rating ranks fourth all-time. “We’ve got a great team. I hope that we’re peaking at the right time. We’re going to need our best effort to beat Seattle, but if there’s a team that can do it, I believe that it is us.”
The teams met in Week 13, when the Seahawks defeated the Saints 34-7 in Seattle. Wilson threw three touchdown passes and Seattle’s defense limited New Orleans to 188 total net yards of offense. The last playoff meeting between these two teams was the 2010 Wild Card matchup in Seattle (January 8, 2011). Lynch ran for 131 yards and a touchdown as the Seahawks knocked off the Saints 41-36.
– NFL Media