8:30 PM ET, December 2, 2013
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
The timing probably couldn't be worse for the surging Seattle Seahawks to be without two defensive backs with the NFC's most prolific passer coming to town.
The conference's top teams are separated by one game as they meet in a Monday night showdown with major postseason implications.
Seattle (10-1) has won six straight and had last weekend off before returning to the news that cornerback Walter Thurmond was officially suspended Tuesday by the NFL for the next four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The suspension was first reported over the weekend.
The Seahawks' secondary is already missing starting cornerback Brandon Browner because of a groin injury.
"We're still trying to work through it. I'll say it again, I've always found myself looking for guys that maybe other people don't see something special in and we take a chance on a guy here or there that needs some extra consideration and care," coach Pete Carroll said. "And sometimes guys they have issues and things pop up but I've always been kind of hopeful and make guys find the best in them and bring it out. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't."
It's a major blow for Seattle, tied with Buffalo with a league-best 16 interceptions -- four apiece by Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have forced an NFL-high 26 turnovers entering Week 13.
Brees is second in the NFL in passing yards (3,647) and touchdowns (28) to Peyton Manning. Nineteen of his touchdowns have come in six home games compared to nine in five on the road, and the star quarterback's three lowest games in terms of yardage have been away from home.
New Orleans (9-2) is in a tight race with Carolina to win the NFC South. A victory Monday would give the Saints the tiebreaker over Seattle and the inside track for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage indoors as opposed to the possibility of having to return to the hostile surroundings of CenturyLink Field in the postseason.
The Saints have never won a road playoff game in five tries and are 0-3 in such contests under coach Sean Payton, with Brees posting the three lowest passer ratings of his postseason career in those games.
Payton insists his team isn't fazed by the road.
"I think it's a typical stereotype with a dome team," Payton said. "I don't know what else to tell someone than to do some research and bring back some numbers and I'll answer a question."
One of those road playoff defeats came the last time these teams met, a 41-36 loss to a 7-9 Seattle team in the 2010 season when the Saints went 11-5.
That one is best remembered for Marshawn Lynch's 131 yards on the ground, including a 67-yard score dubbed "The Beast Quake" that is considered one of the best runs in postseason history. The play has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.
Lynch is fourth in the NFL with 84.1 yards per game and 75 yards shy of his fifth 1,000-yard season. He should be a concern for a Saints defense that is allowing opponents 4.8 yards per carry for the league's fourth-worst mark.
New Orleans has showed improvement in its last two games, limiting San Francisco's Frank Gore and Atlanta's Steven Jackson to a combined 111 rushing yards. The Saints won 23-20 over the 49ers on Nov. 17 and 17-13 four nights later against the Falcons.
This is New Orleans' first look at Russell Wilson, who is sixth in the league in passer rating at 105.1 -- not far behind fourth-place Brees' 107.3 mark.
Wilson said he used to root for Brees and New Orleans before he entered the NFL and has studied the Saints' signal-caller extensively.
"I know everyone compares our heights and everything, but the thing that I admire about him is his leadership, attention to detail, his competitive nature," Wilson said. "He is very clutch. He is very poised in big situations."
Wilson will have to be wary of a Saints pass rush that is one of the NFL's best with 37 sacks, 9 1/2 by defensive end Cameron Jordan.
The Seahawks have won both of Wilson's appearances on Monday nights, while Brees has won nine straight starts on Mondays with a 123.6 passer rating.
The Seahawks will be in position to clinch a playoff spot with a victory if Arizona or San Francisco lose Sunday.
"Every game that we play is a championship game," Carroll said. "You never know which one is going to be the one that you look back on and say, 'Boy, if we'd have got that one, we would've had this or that.' So we play every one of them like it's the biggest game in the world."
More from ESPN.com
Saints extend win streak to 8, roar back, 34-31 in OT
The New Orleans Saints extended their winning streak to eight games with an unlikely comeback, erasing a 15-point deficit inside the final six minutes of regulation and kicking a short field goal in overtime to defeat the Washington Redskins 34-31.
Redskins RB Thompson suffers broken fibula
Redskins running back Chris Thompson was carted off the field Sunday with a broken right fibula after he got caught in an awkward position under Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, bending his leg back.
How to bet Atlanta at Seattle
Where does the betting value lie in the Atlanta-Seattle matchup? ESPN Chalk experts provide against-the-spread and over/under advice on the Monday night game.
Source: Chancellor likely to IR; Carroll hedges
Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor, who suffered a neck injury on the final possession of last week's game in Arizona, will likely be put on IR, a source told ESPN.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||19.2||15.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NO|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NO|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Seattle leads 5-2|
|Jan 8, 2011||NO 36, @SEA 41|
|Nov 21, 2010||NO 34, SEA 19|
|Oct 14, 2007||NO 28, @SEA 17|
|Sep 12, 2004||NO 7, SEA 21|
|Sep 7, 2003||NO 10, @SEA 27|
The Saints have outscored opponents by an average of 17.3 points per game in New Orleans, second only to the Broncos at Mile High. The Seahawks are right behind them, outscoring opponents by 17 at home. On the road though, both of these teams are not as dominant... Seattle has outscored opponents by 10 fewer points per game on the road while the Saints have outscored opponents by an average of 1 point.[+]
PPG Differential This Season
Russell Wilson posted a 94.7 Total QBR against the Saints, his 9th game with a Total QBR above 90.0 in the last 2 seasons, and his 3rd straight game above 90.0. He joins a pretty good list, both Peyton Manning (97.2) and Tom Brady also had Total QBR games above 90.0 this week.[+]
The last time the Seahawks scored 17+ points in the 1st quarter: Week 3 in 2008 vs Rams (scored 17). The last time the Saints allowed 17+ points in the 1st quarter: Week 1 in 2011 at Packers (allowed 21).
Russell Wilson and Drew Brees each attempted eight passes traveling 15 or more yards downfield Monday. Wilson bettered his 59% completion mark entering the game (best among qualified quarterbacks). Brees, however, didn't complete a deep pass for the second time since 2006. --Drew Brees had completed at least three passes traveling 15+ yards in every game this season.[+]
Passing 15+ Yards Downfield, Monday
Russell Wilson has thrown multiple TD passes in 6 straight games (longest active streak in NFL)
Russell Wilson completed 8-of-9 attempts against five or more pass rushers Monday. The 88.9 completion percentage against added pressure is tied for the worst the Saints have allowed in a game since 2006. --Russell Wilson is tied for the second-best Total QBR against added pressure among qualified quarterbacks (84.3). --Wilson has a 99.9 Total QBR against added pressure in each of his last three games. --Wilson was 3-of-3 for 66 yards and a touchdown when the Saints blitzed a defensive back.[+]
Saints' Defense Sending 5+ Pass Rushers, This Season
- Two of Russell Wilson's touchdown passes on Monday came off of play action. Wilson has thrown 10 play-action touchdowns this season, tied for third-most in the league. Wilson's +9 TD-Int differential on play action is tied for second this season (Nick Foles +11). - The Seahawks' corners took away the outside of the field from Drew Brees. He completed 50% of his passes outside the painted numbers for 42 yards compared with completing 70% of his passes inside the painted numbers for 105 yards and his lone touchdown. - Jimmy Graham caught 3-of-9 targets Monday night. Graham's 33% catch rate is the second-lowest of his career (min. 5 targets). Graham caught 0-of-6 targets in Week 6 against the Patriots. - Pierre Thomas was held to 21 yards from scrimmage on Monday, including 0 rushing yards. Both are season lows. Thomas was held to 16 yards after the catch, another season low. Thomas leads all running backs in yards after the catch this season. - The Saints loaded the box often to try to take away Marshawn Lynch Monday night. Ten of Lynch's 16 rushes came against a loaded box. On those rushes, Lynch averaged 1.3 yards.
ESPN Stats & Information