Nov 17, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Will Herring (54) congratulates kicker Garrett Hartley (5) on his game winning field goal against the San Francisco 49ers during the final two seconds of the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The New Orleans Saints defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
I will beat this dead horse continuously, but in the two losses for the Saints this season, they’ve lost by a combined 9 points. Hartley hit a three-game slump against the Bills, Jets, & Cowboys, going only 2/6 on Field Goals. Since he was faced with much criticism, he has gone 4/4 over the last two games. There really hasn’t been a more pivotal point in the Saints season, but in these two games, we desperately need Hartley to convert any & all opportunities.
I also think a big key here is being smart with returns. Sure, that seems like a given, but making poor decisions to run one out of the end zone could spell disaster, because starting at your own 10-yard line versus the 20-yard line makes that much difference. Look for the Seahawks to try to pin the Saints deep & play the field position game, using that 12th Man to their advantage.
What to Watch For: With the weather conditions threatening to be potentially rainy, ball security is going to be huge in all aspects of Special Teams. Look to see how the Saints respond accordingly, specifically with those who handle the ball: McCown (Extra Points), Morstead (Punts), & Sproles/Cadet (Returns). Also pay attention to what the weather might do with Sean Payton’s decisions on 4th down when he’s across the Seahawks 50, or that ‘No Man’s Land’ as it is usually referred to.