To the Dome
The Seahawks are moving up, and I do not only mean through the playoffs. Last week the team was forced to play on a field that was little more than spray painted dirt. This week they play at the Georgia Dome, which has had FieldTurf since 2003.
Seattle is used to playing on FieldTurf, they became the first team in the NFL to use it when Seahawks Stadium opened in 2002. Actually, the Seahawks first played on it from 2000-2001 when they installed it at the University of Washington. The team also uses in at their training facility in Renton, Washington.
The Seattle Seahawks are 2-5 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Then again, so are the Falcons. The two teams have never faced each other in the playoffs.
The Falcons have lost their last three playoff games while the Seahawks have won two of their last three.
What: Seahawks @ Falcons
When: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Where: Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Georgia)
Weather: 72 degrees (temperature is regulated inside the dome)
When the Falcons have the ball
The Atlanta Falcons had the NFL’s 6th ranked passing attack during the regular season. Both Anthony (Tony) Gonzalez and Roddy White had more than 90 reception this season. In fact, four Falcons had more receptions than the Seahawks’ leading receiver, Sidney Rice, did during the 2012 season. Atlanta had 44 offensive touchdowns this season, of which 32 have come via the air.
They will be facing the league’s 6th-best passing defense when they face Richard Sherman and the “Legion of Boom” on Sunday. The Seahawks’ defense ranked 8th in the league with 18 interceptions during the 2012 season. Seattle’s defense doesn’t allow many passing touchdown either. In fact, the only team who allowed fewer during the season was Atlanta.
It is a good thing Atlanta can pass well because they were the 29th ranked rushing offense during the regular season. Marshawn Lynch ran for nearly 200 more yards than the entire Falcons offense.
The Seahawks have the 10th ranked rushing defense and only allowed 8 rushing touchdowns during the season.
When the Seahawks have the ball
The Seahawks had the 27th ranked passing offense, yet they had the 8th most passing touchdowns. Luckily Atlanta isn’t very good against the pass. The Falcons were ranked 23rd in the league despite giving up the fewest touchdowns.
I already mentioned that Marshawn Lynch had more rushing yards that the entire Falcons team, but that is just the beginning. The Seahawks were the 3rd-best rushing team in the league and will be facing the 21st ranked rushing defense.
As much fun as stats are to talk about, I prefer to scout the teams and evaluate them. Like last week, I spent Tuesday watching film and game replays of the team the Seahawks are facing.
The rest of this piece will be a combination of my assessment of the Falcons and my knowledge of the Seahawks.
The Falcons’ offense
Matt Ryan can pick apart a defense. He has excellent ball placements and will throw his receivers open. Tony Gonzalez is a major threat not only because he has an ability to get open, but while pass blocking he seems to feel the pressure on his quarterback and releases his block to give Matt an outlet to throw to.
Julio Jones and Roddy White both have the ability to beat coverage.
I think that Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner can handle them for the most part, though I see Browner being beat for at least one big play on a double move during the game. I would like to see the Seahawks use Kam Chancellor to cover Gonzalez, because putting Tony up against any of the linebackers is a major mismatch for Seattle.
The Falcons don’t have much of a running game, as the stats indicated. Michael Turner isn’t the bowling ball that he once was. He still has a burst of speed but these days he usually goes down from initial contact.
The Falcons’ defense
The strength of the Falcons’ defense is its secondary. They have a couple fast-playing, hard-hitting safeties in William Moore and Thomas McCloud. On the outside they have Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson who complete their secondary. They are no “Legion of Boom”; however, they are good.
To be honest their nickelback is the one who scares me the most.
Charles Mitchell creates havoc on opposing offenses. He times his blitz well and flies around the field in the passing fame. He reminds me of a pesky mosquito.
I don’t think the Seahawks will have to throw the ball much on Sunday. The Falcons’ defense is terrible against the run. Their linebackers and defensive back cannot shed blocks, even their linemen struggle in that department.
Once Seattle establishes the running game the linebackers will be prone to biting on the play action. Robert Griffin III was able to run a read-option pass that was money against the Falcon defense before he got injured and left the game.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Darrell Bevell use a similar play during the game.
This is a nightmare matchup for the Falcons. The Seahawks should be able to control the ball and keep Matt Ryan on the sidelines where he cannot hurt them. I feel like I must be missing something; however, after watching the Falcons I just don’t see anything that leads me to believe that they can hang with the Seahawks.
Seahawks win in impressive fashion 31-17