WHEN : Saturday, January 14th 4:35 p.m. (EST)
WHERE : Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
The battle of the birds! The third seeded Seattle Seahawks will travel East to face off against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons earned a first round bye in the NFC playoffs, after finishing the regular season with an 11-5 record. They controlled the NFC South throughout the year and finished on a four game win streak to clinch the division title. Seattle reached the quarterfinals by defeating the Detroit Lions in their Wild Card game 26-6. The Hawks dominated for 60 minutes, and will have to bring their A game again this week if they hope to earn a spot in the NFC Championship.
These two teams already met once this season. In week six, the Seahawks were able to take down the Falcons 26-24. Seattle jumped out to a 17-3 lead at halftime, but in the third quarter the Falcons scored 21 unanswered points to gain the lead. A few key runs late in the game, and a Steven Hauschka 44 yard field goal ultimately propelled Seattle to victory. Neither team’s roster has changed significantly since the week six matchup. One considerable difference is the backfield of the Seahawks. In week six, Christine Michael was the leading tailback, today he is playing for the Green Bay Packers. Seattle cut ties with Michael after receiving a great amount of production from Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. Rawls has been phenomenal as of late, racking up 161 rushing yards against the Lions in last week’s playoff game.
Atlanta’s offense has proven to be one of the best in the NFL. They rank 2nd in total yards, 3rd in passing, 5th in rushing, and rank first in the league in points scored. Their young quarterback, Matt Ryan, has opened the eyes of NFL fans everywhere and finds himself as a potential MVP candidate. Ryan has thrown for over 4,900 yards, 38 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of a whopping 117. He will tell all that his success comes from being able to throw to guys like Julio Jones. Jones is 2nd in the league in receiving yards, averaging just over 100 yards per game. Atlanta’s running game features a two headed monster of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Freeman ran for over 1,000 yards this season, and scored 11 times on the ground. Coleman has experienced injuries throughout the year, but has rushed for over 500 yards in his short stint. The Falcons offense has a great number of contributors that can go off on any given day.
Seattle’s defense will not have an easy time on Saturday, but they have proven they can hold down any offense. In round one, the Seahawks only allowed Matthew Stafford and company to rack up 231 total yards. Prior to that, the Lions were averaging around 340 yards per game. Seattle’s defense ranks in the top 10 in total yards, and is the 3rd best team in total points allowed. The key to this game will be containing Julio Jones, and pressuring Matt Ryan in the pocket. The Seahawks are third in the league in sacks, while Atlanta’s offensive line has allowed 37 quarterback sacks, which is in the bottom 10 in the NFL.
MY PREDICTION : I am predicting the Seahawks will win this ball game. They know what it takes to win playoff games. Atlanta on the other hand has not made the playoffs since 2012. Matt Ryan has been unbelievable this season, but he has been mostly unsuccessful in the playoffs. In his five game playoff career, Ryan has thrown five interceptions and holds 1-4 record. Seattle’s team has the full package. An offense that can produce passing or in the run game, and a defense that is killer, year in and year out. I think this game will finish with a score similar to the one in week six, 27-24. Atlanta will have a chance in the final minutes to drive down for a game tying field goal, but Richard Sherman will make a big play to end the Atlanta’s chances. Seattle will move on to play in yet another NFC title game.