W2W4: Protect the football

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
4:00
PM ET
The New Orleans Saints' biggest game of the year to date deserves the biggest What 2 Watch 4. This is Part 4 of 4 as we count down toward the Saints’ “Monday Night Football” showdown at the Seattle Seahawks.

There has been a lot of talk this past week about what kind of team the Saints are on the road, outdoors, in certain types of weather, against certain types of teams. The comparables that stand out to me most when you consider all those factors are the Saints’ past matchups against the Chicago Bears (from 2006-2008), the San Francisco 49ers (from 2011-2013) and the Baltimore Ravens (in 2006 and 2010).

In most of the Saints’ losses to those teams, turnovers did them in. And that once again looms as the greatest threat against a Seahawks team that entered the week leading the league in takeaways (26) and tied for the league lead in interceptions (16).

This year, however, the Saints have been winning these types of games with smart, patient game plans. They’ve turned the ball over only 13 times this year, which was tied for fifth in the NFL heading into the week (and only 10 of the turnovers have been committed by the offense). The Saints also entered the week ranked first in the league in time of possession -- 33:04 per game, the most in coach Sean Payton’s tenure.

I expect the Saints to take an approach similar to what worked for them in their turnover-free 26-18 victory at Chicago in Week 5 of this season -- though I do think they’ll be aggressive at times, as always.

“I think we’ve done a really good job this season to date. And this is gonna be one of those games that requires the same,” Saints receiver Marques Colston said. “I think you’ve got to pick your spots [being aggressive]. You’ve got to know your opponent. This is a [Seattle] group that has been off the charts turning the ball over. So you’ve just got to balance getting those extra yards versus being protective of the ball.”

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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