NEW ORLEANS (AP/WLOX) - The New Orleans Saints will be looking to avenge a 34-7 loss to Seattle at Century Link Field on December 2. The Seahawks received a first round by last weekend after securing the NFC's number one seed.
The Saints (12-5) knocked off the Eagles in Philadelphia last Saturday 26-24 for a first-ever franchise playoff road win. Kicker Shayne Graham connected on a game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints under the win column.
Seattle leads the Saints series posting 7 wins and 5 losses. On January 8, 2011 the Seahawks defeated New Orleans 41-36 in Seattle in a Wild Card Playoff game.
The Saints have enjoyed success in postseason play under coach Sean Payton with a 6-3 record (.667). His teams have qualified in five of his seven seasons in New Orleans.
The Saints have the second-best regular season record in the NFC and are tied for fourth-best in the NFL since 2006. Since 2009 New Orleans has compiled a 55-25 record ranking third in the NFL. New Orleans has captured three NFC South Division titles since 2006.
Sean Payton has the highest winning percentage among the 16 head coaches in Saints history at .653. His record is 79-42 overall and his win total ranks second all-time in Saints history behind Jim Mora's 93 victories.
If New Orleans is going to beat the Seahawks in Seattle converting on third down will be crucial. The Saints converted on 97 of 221 third downs in 2013 to rank third in the NFL. The 43.9 third down conversion percentage ranks behind San Diego's 49.0 % and Denver's 46.3 %.
Another area where New Orleans can turn the tide in its favor... defense. The Saints ended the regular season ranked number 4 in total defense giving up 305.7 yards per game. Seattle led the NFL by giving up only 273.6 yards per game.
The Seahawks were tops in giving up only 14.4 points per game. The Saints ranked fourth at 19.0.
Since arriving in New Orleans in 2006, Drew Brees has directed 23 regular season drives in the fourth quarter or overtime for a touchdown or field goal to lead the Saints to victory. He accomplished that feat in Saturday's playoff win over Philadelphia.
On Saturday Brees faces a Seahawks defense that put the clamps on the New Orleans offense on December 2 in that 34-7 Seattle victory. Brees knows it won't be easy but says it can be done.
"The road through the playoffs, through the Super Bowl, it looks like it's going to go through that place,"stated Brees. "So if we want to accomplish what we set out to accomplish this year, we better find a way to win."
Seattle is a confident team, one that posted 7 wins and 1 loss at home. On Tuesday Sean Payton had the Seahawks logo painted on the outdoor and indoor practice fields and had loud crowd noise piped in throughout practice to mimic the Seattle atmosphere.
Payton is doing all he can in getting his team ready for the biggest hurdle to date. New Orleans gained confidence and momentum after the Philadelphia victory and the way the Saints defense has been playing, you can't count out the Saints.
You can expect the Saints to try and establish a solid running attack and hopefully that will open up the Saints passing game behind Brees. Drew overcame a shaky start against the Eagles with two interceptions and if New Orleans can stay away from the turnover bug, the Saints are capable of putting the bite on the Seahawks.
Playing the underdog role helped New Orleans last weekend and it could help this weekend in Seattle.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is warning his players not to underestimate the Saints. Carroll is 71-57 in the regular season and 3-4 in the playoffs overall. New Orleans hopes to add another game under Seattle's loss column on Saturday.