After having a week to rest, the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons will take on the red hot Seattle Seahawks in the NFL’s divisional round of the playoffs. The Seahawks are coming off of a 24-14 road win against the Washington Redskins last week and have won six games in a row. The Falcons, however, are hungry for a playoff win. It’s been eight long years since the Falcons last win in the playoffs, which came against the St. Louis Rams in 2005. To put it in perspective, Michael Vick was the starting quarterback for the Falcons the last time they won a playoff game. Will the Falcons hunger be enough to top the hottest team in the NFL?
Falcons Offense vs. Seahawks defense:
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will look to continue a career season on Sunday. In the regular season, Ryan threw 32 touchdown passes and amassed a whopping 4,719 total passing yards. He couldn’t have done it without his talented receivers, however. Both Julio Jones and Roddy White have gained over 1,000 yards receiving and have combined for 17 touchdowns. Don’t sleep on Tony Gonzalez, either. The future Hall of Fame tight end has had another impressive season at the age of 36, catching eight touchdown passes and 930 yards.
The Seahawks defense, however, has had success against good passing teams the previous six weeks. The Seahawks have combined for 18 interceptions this season, with cornerback Richard Sherman leading the way with eight.
The Falcons have also had success on the ground this season. Tailback Michael Turner has rushed for 10 touchdowns and 800 yards this season, which has kept opposing defenses off balance. Overall, the Falcons offense should have the edge in this match up.
Falcons Defense vs. Seahawks Offense:
Seattle’s offense exploded in the final few weeks of the regular season, which featured them put up 58 points against the Cardinals, 50 points against the Bills, and 42 points against the NFC West champion 49ers. Quarterback Russell Wilson has had an outstanding rookie season, passing for 26 touchdowns and 3,118 yards.
The Seahawks also feature one of the best running backs in the NFL with Marshawn Lynch, who has rushed for 11 touchdowns and 1,590 yards. This one two punch between Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch can be deadly, so the Falcons will need to bring their A game on Sunday.
While Seattle has been tremendous on offense, the Falcons have also been impressive on defense. Atlanta showed how tough it can be defensively against the New York Giants in week 15. The Falcons shut out Eli Manning and the Giants 34-0. The Giants, however, are not as balanced as the Seahawks are.
As mentioned, the Seahawks are the hottest team in the NFL, which is the perfect formula for a Super Bowl run. The Falcons will have to score early and often to take down Seattle and advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Seahawks 27 Falcons 23
I believe that the Falcons are the better team on paper, but paper does not show how hot this Seattle team is. The Seahawks have gotten every bounce and every break the past few weeks, which is what you need to win the Super Bowl.