When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. PST, Louisiana Superdome
Record: 6-3 and second in the NFC South coming out of their bye week
Where they rank: No. 7 on offense (25th rushing, 5th passing); No. 3 on defense (17th rushing, 1st passing)
Series: Tied 5-5. The Saints won the last meeting – 28-17 at Qwest Field in 2007 – to snap the Seahawks’ three-game winning streak.
Star power: Drew Brees. If being the only Super Bowl MVP in franchise history isn’t enough to warrant this recognition, there is the plethora of TV and print ads that have followed Brees’ performance in the Saints’ run last season. This year, he leads the NFL in completions (261) and completion percentage (.698). His passer rating is down (91.7, from 109.6 last season) because he has thrown more interceptions (12) than any QB in the league besides the Giants’ Eli Manning (13). But Brees also has 18 TD passes, and only Manning and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers have thrown more (19). When Brees settles into a groove he’s, well, it’s like Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on Monday, “The best quarterback you can imagine.”
Unsung hero: Julius Jones. Yes, that Julius Jones, the Seahawks leading rusher the past two seasons. The Saints signed Jones after he was released by the Seahawks in October because Reggie Bush has missed the past seven games with a broken bone in his right leg and Pierre Thomas the past six with a sprained ankle. Jones got his first start in the Saints’ pre-bye 34-3 rout of the Panthers and responded with 68 rushing yards on six carries, including a 54-yarder – his most yards since going for 98 against the Bears in Week 3 last season and his longest run since scoring on a 62-yarder in the 2009 opener against the Rams. Jones also had an 11-yard gain on a swing pass the week before, when he made Steelers’ All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu miss in the open field. Bush is expected back this week, and Thomas might be able to return, so it remains to be seen how many touches Jones will get against the team he played for the past two seasons and the first four games this season.
On the spot: Jabari Greer. The shutdown ability of the Saints’ 5-foot-11 cornerback is a big reason why New Orleans leads the NFL in pass defense, allowing an average of 166.3 yards. But with coordinator Gregg Williams’ fondness for blitzing against the run as well as the pass, Greer is left in single coverage a lot. This week, that will be against the Seahawks’ 6-5 Mike Williams, who is coming off an 11-catch game against the Cardinals and has three double-digit reception games in the past five weeks. When Greer has had problems, it’s been against big, physical receivers.
Burning question: Who dat? As in, “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” The Falcons and Browns didn’t just say it; they did it this season, and at the Superdome. The Cardinals also beat the Saints, but that was in Arizona. That’s as many losses as the Saints had all of last season. The obvious follow-up question: Will the Seahawks be able to make it a who-dat trio at the Superdome?
Familiar faces: In addition to Jones, FB Heath Evans (2001-04) and snapper Jason Kyle (1995-98) also played for the Seahawks. Then there’s the Seahawks South flavor to the Saints’ front office. Executive VP/general manager Mickey Loomis was with the Seahawks for 15 years (1983-98), while assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt (1982-91), director of operations James Nagaoka (1980-2002), director of college scouting Rick Reiprish (1984-94) and area scout Mike Baugh (1992-99) also worked for the Seahawks. Area coach Terry Wooden was a second-round draft choice by the Seahawks in 1990 and started at linebacker for seven seasons.