Planets aligning for underdog Seahawks?

The short week allows less time for Seattle Seahawks fans to convince themselves their team can defy the odds by defeating New Orleans in the wild-card round.

Let's count the factors that could improve Seattle's chances:

  • Diminished Saints ground game. Seattle contained the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner in its final regular-season home game. The Seahawks will not have to contend with a runner so physical Saturday. The Saints placed Chris Ivory on injured reserve Wednesday. Ivory rushed for 99 yards against Seattle. New Orleans also placed running back Pierre Thomas on injured reserve. Seattle has to like its chances against Julius Jones.

  • Saints anti-climax. The defending Super Bowl champs must travel across the country to face a 7-9 team they defeated by two touchdowns already this season. Is that anything for them to get fired up about?

  • The Hasselbeck factor. Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 366 yards, one touchdown and a 104.9 rating against New Orleans in Week 11. He completed 18 of 22 passes on first down alone. Hasselbeck hasn't played a good game since facing the Saints. He should have confidence against them based on what happened last time. I'd be surprised, at this point, if Charlie Whitehurst started.

  • Pete Carroll's easy coaching job. He's been joking all week about how he would never resort to playing the disrespect card. Of course he will. The Seahawks know their 7-9 record draws snickers. Oddsmakers made Carroll's motivational job even easier. There's no pressure on Seattle. What coach couldn't get his team frothing under these circumstances?

  • Drew Brees' turnover troubles. Brees carved up Seattle last time. He had a strong running game on his side in that game. Will he Sunday? Brees has thrown 22 interceptions for the season. A couple turnovers in a hostile environment could turn momentum.

  • The Leon Washington factor. Opponents have done a better job containing Seattle's return specialist recently. The Saints rank 28th in defending punt returns and 24th in defending kickoff returns. Does Washington break one this week?

Still not convinced? Hey, I tried. What other factors should we add to the list?