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Posted: Sunday, 01 December 2013 10:10PM

5 things to watch: Saints - Seahawks



KNOCK OFF THE RUST: The last time Seattle was on the field, it had its offensive line fully intact for the first time since the first quarter of Week 2 with the returns of Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini and Max Unger from injuries. Wilson was sacked only once, but the line was admittedly rusty in protections.

The Seahawks better be at their best against the Saints, who lead the NFL with 37 sacks. Cameron Jordan tops the Saints' pass rush with 9 1-2 sacks, and the Seahawks know a variety of pressures are coming from defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

"He does like to change his plan week to week so it's a little bit harder to zero in on what he's going to do, but it's always aggressive and always tough," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

BEAST MODE: Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard TD run against the Saints in the playoffs three seasons ago has been viewed over a million times on YouTube. It was a career-highlight run for Lynch, but his ability to regularly get 4 or 5 yards against the current Saints on Monday night could be critical. New Orleans' run defense is 25th in the NFL, but the Saints are so often playing with a lead that their ability to stop the run becomes moot as opponents try to rally.

If Lynch and the Seahawks can control possession and convert drives into points, the Saints' struggles with stopping the run could be exposed.

CORNERBACK CONCERN: Seattle was without starting cornerback Brandon Browner due to a groin injury. His replacement, Walter Thurmond, was suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The Seahawks will face the most prolific passing offense in the NFC with backup Byron Maxwell starting opposite Sherman and second-year player Jeremy Lane seeing significant playing time.

"They are going to come in and play the same type of technique," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "You don't see something change differently in regards to how they play a certain coverage or how they play a technique."

GRAHAM'S GREATNESS: Jimmy Graham has already tied the NFL record for most 100-yard receiving games in a season by a tight end with six. The one time this season Graham was held in check this season was against New England. The Patriots put cornerback Aqib Talib on Graham almost exclusively on him and it worked. Graham was targeted six times and went without a catch. It was the first time since his rookie season that Graham was shut out.

Could Seattle follow suit and use Sherman on Graham?

HARVIN HEALTH: Just when it seemed the Seahawks were getting fully healthy, they go into Monday's game with wide receiver Percy Harvin doubtful due to lingering soreness in his surgically repaired hip. Harvin was in on 19 offensive plays and two kickoff returns in Week 11 against Minnesota, but soreness from that game has lingered.

If Harvin can't go, the Seahawks would have just four healthy receivers on the active roster.

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