No matter who you’re rooting for on Saturday, if you plan to attend, be ready to pay up. First-sale tickets for this divisional matchup sold out in under 30 minutes, and, according to SeatGeek, the resale tickets are – so far – the priciest of this year’s playoffs.
Yup, even just an average seat will cost you around $400. Even if you want to save a buck and don’t mind nosebleeds, expect to spend at least $200 per ticket. On the other hand, if you prefer to go big and want the Big Papi Special, club seats are going for around $2,000 each.
Hope you didn’t blow your Christmas money just yet, Seahawks and Saints fans.
These high prices should come as no surprise to any NFL fan, since I’m sure most of us expected this Saturday’s playoff in Seattle to be against the stellar newbie Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles, not the New Orleans Saints. No shade to our friends in the bayou, but their away game record has been, well, less than impressive this year. Winning just 3 of their 8 road games this season, the Saints averaged 17 points less in each away game than at home in the Superdome.
Not surprising is the game’s spread: the Seahawks are a 9.5 point favorite. So that means QB Drew Brees and his Saints are not only an underdog, but an underdog in probably the toughest away stadium in the NFL right now. Better believe CenturyLink Field will be roaring come noon on Saturday, if not by 9am (or whenever tailgaters are allowed to flood in).
Also, did anyone else catch (Wild Card Weekend is always a blur by Sunday night) that the Saints got 14 of their 26 points against Philly from a guy that didn’t even play for them until less than a month ago? Hell, he didn’t even play for the NFL. Shayne Graham, the Saints’ “new” kicker, played for the Saints in 2000, was released after a year, and (to his and the Saints’ hiring staff luck) was re-signed a couple weeks ago to replace Garrett Hartley.
That’s right. Graham showed up, fresh out the oven, and went 4-4 on field goals – including a down-to-the-wire game winner.
Gotta love the NFL.
And although the Saints won the body battle against Philly last Saturday, don’t expect that to happen against Seattle. The Seahawks are nuts, and the crowd alone will probably be hyped enough to burst onto the field to tackle some unprepared Saintsmen.
But maybe, just maybe, having already played at the CenturyLink Field this season will benefit the Saints this go-round. Maybe now they know what to expect and will be prepared for the raucousness (see: fancy earplugs).
That being said, that same game happened to be one of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s best of the season and, coincidentally, Brees’ worst. The QB threw for just 147 yards on 38 passes (3.9 yards/attempt), which is the lowest for Brees since he and Saints coach Sean Payton joined the team in 2006.
Look for the Seahawks to continue to rush, rush, rush this Saturday. This season, Seattle has out-rushed their opponents by a margin of 137-102 yards/game while New Orleans has been out-rushed by opponents 20 yards/game. Not an overwhelming significant statistic, but football is a game of inches, right?
The Seahawks’ defensive line and linebackers did an excellent job stopping the Saints running game in their previous matchup this season, so I’m interested to see if Seattle relies on that strategy again. If they do, and they succeed for a second time, Brees will be forced once again to avoid deep throws and opt for shorter options.
The Saints will have to play their best football of the season to pull off this upset. But if anyone can deliver a shocking (I mean, really shocking) blow to Seattle, I’d probably have my money on Brees anyway. He has more than enough primetime experience and is, I think, mentally capable of this type of victory. And if there’s anything I’ve learned as a football fan, it’s to never count out a team with revenge on the mind. Or a Superbowl ring.
Tune into FOX this Saturday, 1:35pm PST/4:35pm EST, to watch the 12th Man (and some Saints fans) pack the CenturyLink Field and wake our neighbors in Canada.