This Seahawks-Saints showdown suddenly looks much different.
What was set up to be a premier early-season showdown in the NFC — between two teams with Super Bowl aspirations — took a dramatic turn Monday when it was revealed that Saints quarterback Drew Brees will miss significant time with a thumb injury on his throwing hand.
In what was a “pick ’em” game, according to the early Las Vegas betting line, the Seahawks (2-0) are now favored by 5 points at home. Five things to know about the Saints (1-1):
1. Brees scheduled for surgery
The 40-year-old Brees injured his thumb on a first-quarter hit by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on Sunday in Los Angeles. Brees left the game and did not return. The Rams beat the Saints 27-9.
According to multiple reports, Brees has a torn ligament in his thumb and is scheduled to have surgery this week. He is expected to miss six weeks.
The NFL’s all-time passing leader, Brees has been remarkably durable throughout his career. Until now, he had missed only one game because of an injury in 18 NFL seasons.
“It’s very difficult to not be playing,” Brees said Sunday. “I’m not used to that. Don’t want to get used to that.”
2. Bridgewater’s back
Brees’ backup is Teddy Bridgewater, who on Sunday in Seattle will make his first significant start since he was Minnesota’s QB for a wild-card playoff game against the Seahawks at the end of the 2015 season.
During training camp in Minnesota in 2016, Bridgewater suffered a horrific knee injury that threatened his career. His surgeon told ESPN that it was “a horribly grotesque injury.”
Bridgewater missed most of the next two seasons, signed with the New York Jets and then was traded to New Orleans last year.
He re-signed with the Saints this offseason, and is the NFL’s highest-paid backup QB, making $7.2 million this season.
Bridgewater completed 17-of-30 passes for 165 yards after Brees’ injury Sunday in Los Angeles. He was sacked twice.
“It sucks that it had to happen the way it did,” Bridgewater told The Times-Picayune. “But I appreciate every opportunity I get to play this game. Everyone in that locker room cherishes the game and we don’t take it for granted.”
3. Good Kamara
The most exciting player in the NFL?
Alvin Kamara has to be on everyone’s short list.
A third-round pick out of Tennessee in 2017, Kamara was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year that fall. Last season, he had 1,592 yards and scored 18 touchdowns from scrimmage (883 yards and 14 TDs rushing, 709 yards and four TDs receiving).
The Saints also have one of the league’s top wide receivers in Michael Thomas, who had 125 catches for 1,405 yards and nine TDs in 2018. He signed a five-year, $96.2 million contract extension this summer.
4. Rush defense
The Saints, who boasted the second-best run defense in the NFL last season, allowed the Texans to rush for 180 yards in their Week 1 matchup in Houston, more rushing yards than New Orleans had given up in a game all last season.
With defensive tackle David Onyemata (suspension) back Sunday, the Saints were better in Los Angeles, limiting the Rams to 115 yards on 30 carries (3.8 yards per carry). That should make for an intriguing matchup against the Seahawks’ run-first offense at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
5. Saints lose starting LB
The injuries are piling up for the Saints.
On Monday, New Orleans placed starting middle linebacker Alex Anzalone on the injured reserve list with an unspecified injury.
He is the fourth linebacker the Saints have placed on injured reserve since the preseason, according to The Times-Picayune.