Everyone has heard the saying, “You win as a team, you lose as a team” but there are always some players who can impact a game and tilt it in your favor more than others.
Sunday’s game in Atlanta will be no different. Some players have been forced into roles that they are not accustomed too, while others just need to play like they are capable for the Seahawks.
If these five players step up I have no doubt that the Seahawks will fly home to prepare for the NFC Championship game.
During the Seahawks Wild Card win against the Redskins last week, placekicker Steven Hauschka suffered a calf injury and was placed on IR (injured reserve).
Seattle signed NFL veteran, and Puyallup native, Ryan Longwell. Ryan beat out a group of three other kickers to win the job. The 38 year old Longwell was released shortly after the draft by Minnesota, yet he never gave up hope that he would get another chance to kick in the NFL.
Sunday he will get that chance.
The Falcons gave up the 4th fewest touchdowns during the regular season despite giving up over 365 yards per game. They are the prototypical bend but don’t break defense, which leads me to believe that Longwell will have more than one opportunity to add points on the board.
Marshawn Lynch missed the first couple days of practice this week after injuring his foot against the Redskins. On Friday Marshawn had limited participation and is listed as probable for the game in Atlanta, which means he will play.
Atlanta does not do a great job stopping the run. They are a terrible tackling team and struggle to get off blocks
If Marshawn and the rest of the Seahawks rushing attack can control the ball to keep Matt Ryan and the high powered Falcons offense off the field, Seattle should have no problem winning the game.
Personally I think if the game goes well Russell Wilson will throw less than 20 times during the game.
No matter how well the Seahawks rushing attack does, Matt Ryan will get the ball in his hands. When Ryan does, Sherman is going to have to make Matt pay for any mistakes he makes in Richard’s direction.
Sherman is considered the best cornerback in the NFL by some. If he can shut down the man he across from him Sunday, whether it is Julio Jones or Roddy White, the rest of the NFL will be forced to take notice.
He feels spurned for not being named a starter in the Pro Bowl this season. * (See All-Pro note below) *
This matchup gives him one more chance to show everyone how wrong they were for not voting him in.
After coming off of his 4 game suspension for using Adderall last week Brandon Browner looked rusty. Against the Falcons he is going to need to play his best football.
Teams have learned that he is susceptible to double moves due to his aggressiveness. Expect plenty of them versus Julio Jones whom I expect Browner to see a lot of on his side of the field.
His size makes it difficult for him to recover once he commits on a route.
Matt Ryan has a big arm and his receivers can make teams pay deep. Browner must limit the opportunities the Falcons have to burn him for big plays.
I’m concerned about how the Seahawks are going to minimize the liability in the running game that starting Irvin presents.
I have heard Pete Carroll say that he believes Bruce can be an ever down player, however I don’t think he can now, nor do I believe he will ever add enough bulk to be able to play the run effectively.
He’s just too small to be able to hold his ground at the point of attack and that makes him a major liability. I won’t be surprised to see Greg Scruggs splitting the extra snaps with Bruce to bolster the Seahawks running game.
If those five players step up and have big games the Seahawks will send the Falcons packing after only one game for the third straight year.
In case you missed my game preview earlier in the week you can find it here.
*** Also in case you missed it this AM four Seahawks were named to the 2012 NFL All-Pro team. Selected by a national panel of 50 media members. On the 2012/13 team from the Seahawks is Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas on defense, and Marshawn Lynch and Max Unger on offense. ***
Enjoy the game.