SEATTLE (AP) — After nearly two weeks of waiting, the Seattle Seahawks finally get a chance to prove they were worthy of the No. 1 seed they earned in the NFC.
After winning on the road in the postseason last week, the New Orleans Saints no longer have that stigma clouding their franchise history.
Less than six weeks after Seattle made a resounding claim to NFC supremacy with a rout of New Orleans, the Seahawks and Saints collide again on Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff. Since that Dec. 2 matchup where the Seahawks all but wrapped up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a 34-7 win, both teams have seen some of their definitions changed.
Seattle has lost some of its home invincibility after losing to Arizona in Week 16 to snap a 14-game home win streak. And the Saints are no longer seeking a validating victory away from New Orleans after knocking off Philadelphia 26-24 last Saturday in the NFC wild-card game, the first road playoff win in franchise history.
"They're going to know what to expect from our crowd, they're going to know what to expect from us, and we're going to know what to expect from them," Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. "It's almost like a division game in that sense because we've just seen each other and you understand what the game is going to be and what it's going to come down to."
There's also a bit of history on the side of the Saints. Since 2005, No. 6 seeds are 5-2 against No. 1 seeds in the divisional round of the postseason.
Here are more things to watch as Seattle tries to advance to its second NFC championship game while the Saints.
Ingram sets the tone: The new Mark Ingram set the tone for the Saints' landmark wild-card win at Philadelphia on the first offensive snap.
Taking a handoff, he ran to his right, made a quick, decisive cut to the inside of charging cornerback Bradley Fletcher, eluded the grasp of linebacker Mychal Kendricks and drove safety Patrick Chung back for an extra 4 yards before going out of bounds at the New Orleans 44 to finish a 17-yard gain.
It was his fourth-longest rush of the year, which he topped with an 18-yard effort on the Saints' go-ahead touchdown drive early in the third quarter.
By the time Shayne Graham kicked the winning field goal, Ingram had the second-most carries (18) in his three-year career for the second-most yards (97).
"I've always been confident in myself," he said. "I know what I can do. I'm confident in my abilities. It's just the matter of having an opportunity to get those touches and show what I could do."