The Seahawks are back on the road heading east for the second straight week, this time for a showdown with the New Orleans Saints. To learn more about this week's opponent, we reached out to NewOrleansSaints.com senior writer John DeShazier with five questions about the Saints.
The Saints are 1-3 (albeit a very unlucky double-doink from being 2-2), what's gone well for them so far, and what needs to improve?
DeShazier: Defensively, the Saints feel pretty good about where they are. The 1-3 record doesn't really speak to the overall play of the defense, which held Tampa Bay to 13 points, held Carolina to 15, limited each to less than 300 yards of offense and held strong to allow field goals in some tight situations. Even in the 28-25 loss to Minnesota, the Vikings kicked five field goals, so defensively, New Orleans is good with what it has seen, and it has kept teams out of the end zone consistently. But when a team leads the league in turnovers (11), has the worst turnover margin (minus-7) and is second in penalties (34), it can't expect to be successful unless the defense pitches shutouts. Special teams haven't provided any help, either – kicker Wil Lutz is 4-for-8, albeit one was the double-doink miss from 61 yards, and a fumble in the same game handed Minnesota a field goal. If the Saints can hold on to the ball and play clean on penalties, they feel pretty good about their chances. Offense needs to start faster (two touchdowns in the first half this season).
Unlike most teams coming off an international game, the Saints aren't on their bye this week, but instead are hosting the Seahawks in Week 5. What went into that decision for New Orleans, and how are they handling the time change while also getting ready for a football game?
DeShazier: They weren't as upset about the schedule roll-out as I thought they'd be, honestly. The time change is fine, they're back to the routine. Team officials didn't really want a bye this early in the season, so I think they were all right with not taking this week off. Probably, they were more agitated by not having a bye until Week 13, because that's a tad long for an NFL team. But they were able to get back on the regular central time zone schedule, and preparation has been routine.
The Saints were without some of their top players last week, including quarterback Jameis Winston, running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas. What can you tell us about their chances of returning this week, if any can't go, who needs to step up in their absences?
DeShazier: Don't expect to see Thomas (toe) or Winston (ribs, ankle); neither practiced Wednesday or Thursday. Kamara returns, and he's a much-needed asset for the offense especially since Thomas can't go. With no Thomas, rookie Chris Olave seems to be showing that he can be the team's top receiver – he has been given some veteran-level respect, but defenses probably are going to throw more looks and physicality at him to see how he handles that adversity. Jarvis Landry needs to show up at the receiver position to help the rook, and Kamara could be big in the passing game, too. Andy Dalton (20 for 28, 236 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions, a lost fumble) steps in again at quarterback. Aside from the lost fumble, he came on strong in the second half and the Saints hope that production and steady hand will help them have a faster start against Seattle. Dalton's teammates feel really comfortable with the veteran behind center.
Aside from the obvious big names, who's a player(s) you see being a potential X-factor for the Saints on Sunday?
DeShazier: I'd say receiver Marquez Callaway could be one to watch. He can make acrobatic, contested catches, he knows the offense and he fits his role better this year as a No. 3 or 4 receiver than last year, when he had to be the No. 1 option. He and Dalton seem to have a little chemistry.
What is the matchup/matchups you're most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?
DeShazier: Marshon Lattimore against D.K. Metcalf, two guys who don't appear to be fond of one another. The Saints' cornerback didn't have a good showing against Minnesota's Justin Jefferson (10 catches for 147 yards), and he rarely has poor showings in back-to-back games. Metcalf is a stud receiver and when there are one-on-one situations, he's a guy Seattle obviously will want to target. Lattimore has had some of his best games against some of the league's best receivers, so it'll be interesting to see how he handles Metcalf on Sunday, especially with quarterback Geno Smith's improved accuracy and confidence.
The Seahawks face the Saints for Week 5 of the 2022 season at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Take a look back at photos from the past games between the two teams.