The Seattle Seahawks (8-1) head to the Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons (2-6) at 1 PM ET on Sunday. The game will be aired on FOX.
Seattle has struggled the past two weeks against sub-par opponents but used their resiliency to find a way to win. Atlanta, on the other hand, is struggling mightily as a result of poor defensive performances and injuries to key offensive playmakers.
Given Seattle’s last two performances, this game is harder to call, since Atlanta is playing at a level similar to the Rams and Bucs. A key component to this game, however, is how things ended between the two during the playoffs last winter. The Falcons survived a vociferous Seattle comeback and escaped with a 30-28 win. This year’s Falcons squad is less potent than the playoff team seen last year, and Seattle’s hunger for revenge and a desire to get back on track will spearhead their path to victory on Sunday.
There’s a lot of pressure on Matt Ryan right now. He’s been without star receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, and the lack of a sharp running game has forced him to balance the entire weight of the offense on his shoulders. He’s fifth in the NFL in number of passes attempted at 332.
Yes, he’s the quarterback, but losing top receivers and not having a running game to complement him is more than problematic. His main weapons as it stands are Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas.
Richard Sherman will have Douglas’s number all day, and so Ryan will predictably focus on Gonzalez. There is a possibility that White plays on Sunday, and if he does that will certainly help the Falcon offense. Ryan desperately needs one of his weapons back. White has still been limited in practice, though, so he could end up playing more a decoy role on Sunday.
That being said, Seattle really needs to take advantage of Atlanta’s poor defense and put points on the board. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are poised to have a big day, even without offensive linemen like Max Unger, Russell Okung, and Breno Giacomini: Atlanta’s giving up almost 300 passing yards and just under 150 rushing yards a game.
Putting Atlanta in a hole early will diminish the fan’s impact on the game, as the Georgia Dome gets extremely loud. It will also intensify the pressure put on Matt Ryan. If he gets down early, the Falcon offense will become even more predictable and one-dimensional, and the Legion of Boom will be waiting to grab a ball or two.
I expect Seattle to come out with a fire in their hearts. They’ll surely want to come out showing that yes, this is a team that can win convincingly and make a Super Bowl run. With the way the Falcons are spiraling out of control, Russell Wilson and company have a great chance to make a statement on Sunday and win by a larger margin than what they’ve recently managed.
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