The Seattle Seahawks defeated the New Orleans Saints 23-15 on Saturday to advance to the NFC Championship Game. They’ll host the winner of Sunday’s San Francisco 49ers/Carolina Panthers contest next weekend with the victor advancing to the Super Bowl betting action.
Seattle didn’t play a great game but clearly fed off of the emotion of the fans at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks’ home stadium has become infamous in the NFL for being arguably the toughest venue in the league for visiting teams. The loud fans combined with the always unpredictable weather in the Pacific Northwest is a tough challenge for opposing teams and for much of the first half the Saints looked downright intimidated. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees would rebound to have a decent day statistically but at the halftime break he only had 36 yards passing.
The Seahawks didn’t so much dominate the first half as they just capitalized on New Orleans’ offensive impotence. They parlayed favorable field position into three Steven Hauschka field goals along with a 15 yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch. Lynch’s major was the only touchdown of the first half and allowed the Seahawks to carry a 16-0 lead into the locker room for the halftime break.
New Orleans showed some improvement on offense in the second half but despite driving several times into Seattle territory were unable to put any points on the board. After a scoreless third quarter the Saints finally struck paydirt as Khiry Robinson ran in a touchdown from one yard out. They converted the two point conversion to cut the Seahawks’ lead to 16-8.
That would be all of the scoring until the final three minutes of the game. Seattle stretched their lead to 23-8 when Marshawn Lynch once again found the endzone, this time on a 31 yard run. New Orleans would not go away and got that touchdown back on a 9 yard pass from Drew Brees with :26 seconds remaining. The Saints would recover the onside kickoff to give themselves one last shot at tying the game but their effort would prove fruitless.
Most NFL bettors got a ‘push’ on the game. The pointspread had been at -8 for most of the week though early Seattle bettors were able to get a winning -7′. Late money came for the home favorite driving the line up to -9 or higher meaning that players who backed New Orleans late in the betting cycle got a win.