The New Orleans Saints (9-2) will travel to CenturyLink Field to face the Seattle Seahawks (10-1) in their second consecutive prime time contest with the lead in the NFC playoff race on the line on Monday night. The Saints are riding a three-game winning streak following a 17-13 win at the Atlanta Falcons on November 21, while the red-hot Seahawks have six straight victories under their belt and will be coming off a week 12 bye.
The Saints are one game ahead of the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South following the important road win at Atlanta that gives them a 3-2 mark away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. A balanced approach on offense keyed the win, where QB Drew Breescompleted 23-of-33 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns and 115.5 passer rating, five grabs for 100 yards with one touchdown were recorded by TE Jimmy Grahamand RB Pierre Thomasfinished with 130 total yards from scrimmage.
This triumvirate, backed by an offensive line that has only surrendered three sacks during the three-game winning streak has helped power the league's third-ranked offense. Brees has completed 300-of-439 passes for 3,647 yards, 28 touchdowns and a 107.3 passer rating, to rank in the top five in the NFL in passing in all major categories. Graham has recorded 65 receptions for 946 yards with 11 touchdowns. He's tied for the league lead in scoring grabs and with six 100-yard receiving games is tied for the most all-time by an NFL tight end. Thomas has been a threat both in the running game and passing game with 117 carries for 486 yards (4.2 avg.) with one touchdown and a career-high 56 receptions for 406 yards (7.3 avg.) with two TDs, to tie for second in the NFL in receiving among running backs.
Defensively against the Falcons, a relentless pass rush tied a season-high with five sacks. DE Cameron Jordanled the way with 2.5 sacks, while DE Akiem Hickschipped in a career-high 1.5 takedowns on the other side. OLB Keyunta Dawsona midseason free agent pickup, stopped a potential Falcons score at the start of the fourth quarter when he forced a fumble by Falcons WR Darius Johnsonthat was recovered by the Saints and later split a sack with OLB Parys Haralson.
New Orleans' two ends have keyed an aggressive defense ranked fifth in the NFL in yardage and tied for first in sack. Jordan has enjoyed a standout season in 2013, recording 46 tackles (22 solo), a career-high 9.5 quarterback takedowns, tied for seventh in the NFL, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Hicks leads the defensive line with 55 tackles (26 solo), while adding 3.5 sacks in his first season as a starter for the club.
This Week In The NFC South:On Sunday, the Panthers, New Orleans' opponent in a prime time Mercedes-Benz Superdome matchup on December 8, will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8), while the Buffalo Bills (4-7) will host the Falcons (2-9).