2013 NFL Grades, Week 13: Road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle
Full grades for every single team from 2013's NFL Week 13. The Seahawks are pretty good huh?
We're done here, right? The Seattle Seahawks didn't technically lock up homefield advantage on Monday night but they sure came close. Seattle throttled New Orleans at CenturyLink Field in prime time, sending the New Orleans Saints home to lick their wounds as the prepare for the Carolina Panthers . Meanwhile the Seahawks travel to San Francisco for a divisional showdown against the San Francisco 49ers but, at 11-1, they're all but locked into the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The best anyone can do in the NFC now is 13-3. That means Seattle, who clinched a playoff spot on Monday, has to lose two of their last four games to even bring a tiebreaker into play. Two of their last four games are at home. That means, even though the games are against the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams , that Seattle's taking the No. 1 seed.
That game goes off differently if it's in New Orleans, obviously. Drew Brees and the Saints offense is substantially more effective at home, in a dome. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks aren't as good away from home. Argue it all you want but he's never lost in Seattle so you'll lose.
It's also irrelevant to wonder how Brees will do at home against the Seahawks because he won't see them there now. Instead the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle.
Some more observations from Monday night:
1) This seemed a lot like the Seahawks Week 16 win over the 49ers in 2012, when Seattle hammered San Francisco 42-13. The score wasn't just similar though: Russell Wilson ran a near-perfect and expanded offensive game, the Seahawks used the read option to devastating effect and the defense absolutely stifled a potent opposing offense. It was also rainy and there was rain gear and AGGRESSIVE PETE CARROLL GUM CHEWING:
Man, if only someone was enterprising enough to spiff up that GIF with a top hat, cane and monocle ...
That GIF is obviously from last year but it represents Pete Carroll's official SWAG level quite well.
2) So what should we take from this late-season dominance? It's worth looking at the Seahawks surge last season and wondering if they can pull it off this year too. After their Week 11 bye, Seattle caught absolute fire, averaging 35.7 points down the stretch. They lobbed up a pair of 50 burgers on the Cardinals and Buffalo Bills before laying the prime time hammer on the 49ers. They appear to be trending similarly as well this year, throwing up 27, 33, 41 and 34 points respectively. That they "only" put up 34 points against the Saints on Monday is a testament to how well the defense played.
3) One of the things that stood out in terms of the offense was the early use of the read option. It threw the Saints off their defensive game and Wilson actually kept the ball to great success, causing Junior Gallette (who's been very good this season) to leave his jock on the field a few times. Really smart wrinkle from the Seahawks that got the Saints off balance early.
4) The Saints offense was ... not as good. They totaled 188 yards on the night, which is a low for a Drew Brees-Sean Payton team in New Orleans. A lot stands out here. They couldn't run the ball and when they tried, they weren't effective. Mark Ingram led the Saints with 22 rushing yards on eight carries.
5) Drew Brees had 3.89 yards per attempt. Oof. That's the lowest total for him since 2003 when he was with the San Diego Chargers . Russell Wilson had more rushing yards per attempt than Brees did passing yards per pop.
6) The way Seattle utilized Richard Sherman was really, really impressive. Stupendous defensive gameplan to have him shadow Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston at all the right times. The Seahawks were on fire defensively.
7) New Orleans was not. The Saints aggressiveness on defense played right into the Seahawks hand. Wilson is too cool and collected to be rattled. When Rob Ryan sent pressure at him, Wilson moved around, found space and made deep throws to wide open receivers all day long.
8) Even the ridiculous breaks went the Seahawks way. Derrick Coleman caught a touchdown pass that not only wasn't intended for him, but one that bounced off a teammate and into his hands, right by the pylon.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
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