If a game in week five is a must-win it’s usually because things are not going well. That’s definitely the case for the 2022-2023 New Orleans Saints. This is a must-win game Vs the Seattle Seahawks. Let’s see how the Saints stack up.
The Saints chose not to have their bye week as usual after a London game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a post-London hangover with all the travel and time changes. The Sants have got to prove the organisation was right to make that choice this week and not let that be the reason for another week of sloppy play, ending in a loss.
Saints Offense Vs Seahawks Defense
This has to be a get-right game for the again Andy Dalton-led Saints offense. Last week was a good start for Dalton and the offense, in their attempt to right the offensive ship. However, they were still plagued by a very slow start on offense, turnovers, fumbles especially and penalties.
The first 6 drives of the game for the Saints; Three of those drives were three-play, three-and-out drives. One was a 60-yard touchdown after the Tyrann Mathieu interception, the last play before the half was a one-play drive where Dalton lost a fumble.
The Saints went three and out again to start the second half before going. Touchdown, touchdown, field goal and missed field goal to end the game. The second half showed promise, but they can’t keep getting off to such slow starts, this team has barely played with a lead all season. This team is not built to win from behind.
This week on paper looks to be a good matchup for the New Orleans offense.
In the picture above are Seattle’s top seven players in terms of coverage snaps (Picture from PFF). Four of those seven players have allowed a 130+ passer rating when targeted (NFL column). Specifically, I want to highlight Jordyn Brooks (PR 149.0) and Coby Bryant (136.9).
Brooks struggled against Alvin Kamara last season, (four receptions for 49 yards and 2 first downs) given up against Kamara in coverage last season (per PFF) this should be a matchup the Saints target again, with Kamara set to return this week.
Bryant has been manning the slot since regular starter Justin Coleman got injured in Week One and he’s struggled. Whilst in coverage he’s allowing 71.4% of the passes thrown his way to be completed and those receptions on average go for 17.3 yards per catch. He also hasn’t forced any incompletions whilst in coverage so far this year.
This should be an advantageous matchup for Jarvis Landry; the Saints’ main slot receiver. This seems like a good game to put Olave and/or Harty in the slot for some slot plays to try and take advantage.
Seattle could have Coleman back, he’s been out with a calf injury but there’s no guarantee that he immediately be pushed back into the starting line-up, we saw this with starting CB Paulson Adebo in his first game back from his ankle injury.
Rookie CB, Tariq Woolen has impressed in the Seattle secondary as has Saints rookie WR Chris Olave. This is a matchup I’m fascinated to watch on Sunday. More on that here (Analysing Three Key Matchups For The Saints In Week Five Vs Seattle – Full10Yards)
Per Pro-Football-Reference (PFR) Seattle’s defense on average is giving up 8.2 yards per pass play. This ranks dead last in the league in this metric.
Also, per PFR Seattle’s defense is giving up 5.1 yards-per-carry which ranks as the fourth worst in the NFL. This is another sign of hope for the Saints’ offense. It’s clear that New Orleans wants to establish the run and the offense has looked its best when they’ve been able to run the ball, especially on early downs. With Kamara back, Ingram not on the injury report and Taysom seeming to be back to full health. This should be a good matchup for them to dominate on the ground.
The Saints’ o-line should be able to hold up well against the Seattle pass rush. They had a very solid game last week against a stronger rush. Although Minnesota only blitzed Dalton six times last week, which is surprising considering the Saints’ issues against the blitz, expect that to be tested early this week.
Saints Defense Vs Seahawks Offense
At the start of the season, I would have said this was one of the easiest matchups for the Saints’ defense. After four weeks of the NFL season that isn’t the case.
Geno Smith has been great, he’s played exactly how the Saints would have wanted their QBs to play so far.
He’s been efficient completing a league-best 77.3% of his passes. With only two turnovers (two interceptions) he’s playing a perfect point guard role at QB distributing the ball to his playmakers with minimal fuss.
Expect star WR D.K Metcalf to be matched up with Saints star CB Marshon Lattimore for most of the day, this is always a blockbuster matchup and one the Saints need to win, more on that here (Analysing Three Key Matchups For The Saints In Week Five Vs Seattle – Full10Yards).
Despite Metcalf’s star power, he’s not the Seahawks leading WR so far this season. That title goes to Tyler Lockett, who has more catches and yards so far this season. He plays 44.9% of his snaps in the slot. This means Bradly Roby will be under a microscope in this matchup, the Saints could even shade some help his way.
Seattle also possesses one of the league’s most potent ground games. Rashaad Penny, who once looked like a first-round bust. Now looks like one of the most explosive runners in the league.
Per PFF, he averages 4.57 rushing yards after contact per rush, which leads all RBs in the NFL. He’s also averaging six yards-per-carry (YPC) so far this season after an incredibly impressive, 17 carry 157-yard performance last week @ Detroit.
The Saints’ defense needs to show up against the run like it did last week when it bottled up another elite RB (Dalvin Cook) for 3.6 YPC on 20 attempts.
The final piece to the puzzle for the New Orleans defense? Putting Geno under pressure. When under pressure Smith’s PFF passing grade is 62.0, compared to 87.3 when not under pressure. They need big games from Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport Vs two rookie tackles. More on that matchup here- Analysing Three Key Matchups For The Saints In Week Five Vs Seattle – Full10Yards
State Of The Rosters
The Saints will be without QB1 and WR1 again this week as Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas are both OUT for this weekend.
On the plus side, the Saints will have star RB Alvin Kamara, starting safety Marcus Maye and starting LG back for this game.
Fairly clean bill of health for Seattle. There was a scare earlier in the week when star RB Rashaad Penny didn’t practice, he practised fully since then.
The Main miss for Seattle is last week’s starting EDGE Darrell Johnson is OUT after being put on injured reserve with an ankle injury. This will give Seattle a chance to give second-round rookie Boye Mafe an extended look in Taylor’s absence.
For more information on the injuries click here- https://whodathype.com/2022/10/07/week-five-injury-updates-saints-seahawks/
If the Saints offense doesn’t get back firmly on the tracks this week then honestly, I don’t expect them to and this has to be the week for an Alvin Kamara game.
Unless the pass rush goes ballistic (which it could) then I think Seattle will still score points.
The Saints win 31-24 with a late Seattle touchdown bringing the score closer.
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