Game Preview: Seahawks at Saints

The Seahawks and the Saints face off on opening weekend for the second straight season.

What: Season opener for both teams
When: Sunday, September 12th, 10 am (PST)
Where: Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana


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Saints Key Players:

QB Aaron Brooks: Brooks has been recovering from a quad injury during the preseason and saw limited action in the games he did play. When healthy Brooks can make the spectacular look easy and then confound the mind with an inexplicable mistake. He has a cannon for an arm, good to great mobility (sans the injury) and the ability to make the big play. One of his biggest drawbacks was a penchant for throwing interceptions, but Brooks seemed to remedy that problem toward the end of last season by going 232 consecutive passes without throwing an interception, the NFL's longest active streak.

RB Deuce McAllister: McAllister is entering his third season as the Saints starter and by all accounts he is ready to enter the realm of the elite running backs in the league. McAllister saw few carries in the preseason and is primed for the opening of the regular season. In 2003 McAllister rushed for 1,641 yards and eight touchdowns while catching 69 passes for an additional 516 yards. His speed makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

WR Joe Horn: Horn is a mercurial wideout who is not quite an elite wide receiver but is very good nonetheless. He has the speed to get deep and the hands and route-running to make plays across the middle. His 78 catches, 973 yards and 10 TDs last season led the team and he may be a big season from Brooks away from entering the ranks of the top wideouts in the league.

FS Tebucky Jones: Jones came over from the New England Patriots last year with a reputation of being a head-hunter across the middle. However, Jones never really learned the Saints' system and was hesitant in space. Jones is coming off a solid preseason and coaches hope that he returns to his big-hitting ways.

DT Brian Young: Young left the St. Louis Rams in the offseason as a free agent and joined the Saints hoping to add a run-stuffing dimension to the Saints' defensive line. Young brings quickness, intensity and good motor to a line that, if they live up to their hype and draft status, could be one of the best in the league.

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Key Matchups:

Saints WRs vs. Seahawks CBs: Seattle corners Marcus Trufant, Bobby Taylor and Ken Lucas had terrific fall camps while shutting down every wideout they faced during the preseason. Horn, Donte Stallworth, and Jerome Pathon are a dangerous blend of speed, hands and route-running ability. The battles on the outside should be fun to watch.

Brooks vs. Seahawks FS Ken Hamlin: Hamlin is entering his second season and coaches love his aggressiveness in run-support but are wary of play action passes over the top. Brooks is good with his play fakes and Hamlin will be challenged by Brooks' big time arm. Brooks must continue to make good decisions if the Saints hope to win.

McAllister vs. Seahawks front seven: Hawks DTs Cedric Woodard and Rashad Moore along with MLB Orlando Huff will be challenged by McAllister's cutting ability and big body. If McAllister goes off this could be a long day for the Hawks.

Seahawks offensive line vs. Saints defensive line: The Seahawks offensive line features three players who could be playing in Honolulu come February. Tackles Chris Terry and Walter Jones along with guard Steve Hutchinson are arguably the best at their positions. The Saint defensive line features some big-time talent that has not lived up to its draft status. DE Charles Grant needs to have a big season otherwise first-rounder Will Smith will be called on more and more. DE Darren Howard is questionable for the game and without his motor this line could struggle. If the Hawks offensive line can protect QB Matt Hasselbeck and open holes for RB Shaun Alexander the Seahawks should be able to move the chains all day.

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News and Notes: Including playoffs, Seahawks' RB Shaun Alexander has scored at least 1 touchdown in 6 straight games and 14-of-17 contests dating back to '03; The Saints own just an 11-26 lifetime (.297) on opening day dating back to 1967; The Seahawks own an 8-20 record (.286) on opening day dating back to 1976; Seattle's last season-opening road victory came in a 9-6 field-goal contest in 2001 over the Cleveland Browns; The Seahawks and Saints are tied 4-4 in the series.

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Injuries:

New Orleans: DE Kenny Smith - Rotator cuff (out); LB Cie Grant – Knee (out); CB Fred Thomas - Foot (probable); CB Deveron Harper – Hamstring (probable); CB Jason Craft - Abdominal (probable); DE Darren Howard – Bulging Disc (questionable).

Seattle: S Damien Robinson – Shoulder (out); DT Marcus Tubbs – Hamstring (questionable); LB Chad Brown – Leg (out); LB D.D. Lewis – Shoulder (out); WR Bobby Engram – Back (out); WR Alex Bannister - Shoulder (probable); FB Chris Davis – Knee (out).

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Prediction: Saints 24 – Seattle 20



.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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