Prime time used to be Seahawks time — the Seahawks’ time to shine on a national stage.
Not so much this season.
The Seahawks (2-4) have lost two in a row, both in prime time — first to the Rams at home on a Thursday night and then at Pittsburgh, in overtime, on Sunday night.
Certainly, at least part of that can be explained by Russell Wilson’s finger injury late in the third quarter against Rams two weeks ago.
But Seattle will try to avoid a third straight prime-time setback when the New Orleans Saints visit Lumen Field for a Monday night showdown.
Since Pete Carroll’s arrival in 2010, the Seahawks have the best winning percentage in the NFL in prime time games (.761, 33-10-1 overall record) in prime time. They’ve been even better on Monday night, winning 11 of 13 games since 2010.
Best all-time winning percentage, Monday Night Football
1. Seattle, 27-10 (.730)
2. Pittsburgh, 49-26 (.653)
3. San Francisco, 49-29 (.628)
4. Kansas City, 30-19 (.612)
More on the matchup with the Saints:
Seahawks (2-4) vs. Saints (3-2)
Time: 5:15 p.m. Monday
Radio: 710 ESPN Seattle
Betting line: Saints are favored by 4.5 points.
Series history: Saints lead the all-time series, 8-6, and have won four of the last five matchups, including the last two.
Three things to know about the Saints:
What to make of this team?
The Saints, coming off their bye week, have been one of the NFL’s most puzzling teams so far in 2021.
“At times they’ve looked like world beaters, like when they thumped the Green Bay Packers 38-3 in Week 1,” Luke Johnson wrote this week in The Times-Picayune. “… Other times, they’ve looked quite pedestrian. We probably don’t need to rehash the head-scratching losses to the 3-3 Panthers or 1-5 Giants.”
Get this: The Saints are outscoring opponents by an average of 7.2 points per game — the seventh-best margin in the NFL — but they’re being outgained by an average of 58.8 yards per game.
How unusual is that? According to The Times-Picayune, no team in NFL history has that large of a points-to-yards margin differential through five games.
Part of the issue for the Saints has been injuries to almost a dozen notable players — star receiver Michael Thomas, among them. Thomas has been sidelined all season while recovering from offseason surgery, and he is reportedly still a couple weeks away from returning.
Of course, it helps to have one of the best talents in the league, and the Saints have that in do-everything running back Alvin Kamara.
Kamara is averaging 21.8 touches per game, fifth most in the NFL and the heaviest workload of his career. He has rushed 94 times for 368 yards and one TD; and he has 15 receptions for 113 yards and three scores.
In the zone
The Saints have the best red-zone team in the NFL.
Of its 14 possessions inside the opponents’ 20, the New Orleans offense has converted 13 of those into touchdowns. That’s a 92.9% success rate that, if it were to hold up, would be the best in the NFL in at least two decades, per The Times-Picayune.
Even better? The Saints defense is tied for No. 1 in the NFL in limiting opponents in the red zone to a 35.7% touchdown rate (5 for 14).
The Seahawks offense ranks fourth in red-zone success rating, scoring touchdowns on 12 of their 16 possessions.
2021 red zone offense
1. New Orleans, 92.9%
2. San Francisco, 90.9%
3. Cincinnati, 83.3%
4. Seattle, 75.0%
5. Baltimore, 71.4%
Playing it safe
Jameis Winston has been solid in his first season as the Saints quarterback, having won the job to succeed the retired Drew Brees.
Winston has 12 touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 108.1. He also leads the league with eight touchdown passes while under pressure, according to Pro Football Focus.
Coach Sean Payton has largely taken a conservative approach on offense with Winston, who two years ago had an NFL-leading 30 interceptions in his final season in Tampa Bay.
The Saints have the fewest passing attempts in the NFL, and they rank 31st in passing yards per game at 169.4.
The Saints also rank dead last in the NFL in explosive plays — creating just 11 such plays (on runs of 15 yards and on passes of 20 yards).