By Phil Clark

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 18:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up on the field before a pre-season game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on August 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)Two of the NFL‘s best duel tonight on Monday Night Football. The New Orleans Saints travel to Seattle to take on the Seattle Seahawks in what could be a preview of this year’s NFC championship game. This game features two great quarterbacks, two great defenses, and a test case for how good the Seahawks truly are when playing at home.

In the quarterback debate heading into this game, Saints quarterback Drew Brees should be the one given the edge almost every time. Brees has been with the Saints for closing in on a decade, he’s played with most of the players on the Saints’ offense for years, meaning that a kind of camaraderie is already there that is still developing in Seattle. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is in his second season as a pro, but has already achieved great success, helping the Seahawks to within a game of the Super Bowl last season and helping them to the status of NFC champion favorites currently. While Wilson may not be as beloved to his team as Brees is to his, he’s well on his way to getting there.

The key difference between these two quarterbacks and how their offenses run is this: Wilson and the Seahawks rely a good deal on their running game to produce yards, eat up the clock, and help the offense be as productive as possible; Brees has a running attack, but the Saints’ offense lives and dies with Brees’ arm. Of course, with the possibility of cold and windy weather, the Seahawks may have the edge in offensive strategy in this particular case.

This game will be a really good test for the new and successful defense that Rob Ryan has brought to New Orleans.

The Saints have already had success this season against great quarterbacks and great offenses, but tonight is a special case. Tonight the Saints are against a team that is particularly tough to beat at home, the weather will be far from the comfort of the Superdome, and it’s against an offense with a good running attack, a receiving core that has been good one week and less so the next, and a quarterback that can run & pass the ball well. Everything is there to produce a tough night for the Saints’ defense, not necessarily a tough night where they’re giving up a ton of points, but a tough night where they are going to have to scratch and claw and dig deep for every play and every stop they get.

Normally I mention home-field advantage and all of that, but don’t pay it much mind; with tonight’s game, there’s no way someone can’t at least look at home-field advantage as a real factor. The Seahawks have not lost at home since Wilson debuted in the NFL, a streak that currently stands at 13 home wins in a row and 15 wins in their last 16 home games.

Then there’s the “12th Man” as fans of the Seahawks have become known as during a home game. The fact that the Saints were pumping in crowd noise to their practices in preparation for this game means that they are taking this element very seriously. And it is something to take seriously as some venues in pro football are tough to play in because of the crowd noise; such venues include the old Cowboys Stadium, the RCA Dome and Arrowhead Stadium. You can count CenturyLink Field not only as one of those loud places to play in, but the worst loud place to play in considering the recent success the Seahawks have had at home.

I’m sensing a defensive game, as most road games involving the Saints have been this season. The Seahawks are also used to low-scoring games that are dominated primarily by the two defenses. Tonight will be a mix of the two as both defenses will dominate plenty of the action, but the offenses will push through and score points.

This one is going to be a close, back-and-forth game right until the end when a late touchdown drive from the Saints, capped off by a touchdown pass from Brees, will give the Saints the win and new momentum while replacing the Seahawks as the team eying home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

My Prediction: New Orleans 24, Seattle (-6.5) 17

2013 Season
Straight Up: 6-6
ATS: 7-5

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Phil Clark

Born in Muskego, Wisconsin, Phil attended UWM and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing. A fan of football his entire life, he began writing about football for Inside Pulse in 2007. Since then, he has written for several different sites while writing about football, mixed martial arts, boxing, basketball, and pro wrestling.

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