SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5-1)
at ATLANTA FALCONS (11-5)
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
Line: Atlanta -5.0, Total: 51.0
The Seahawks will be looking to continue yet another postseason run with a win over the Falcons in Atlanta on Saturday.
Seattle hosted Detroit in the Wild Card round, and the Seahawks were absolutely dominant in that game. They were favored by 9.5 points at home in that one, and they ended up winning 26-6. Detroit only rushed for 49 yards in the game, and Seattle held them to 231 yards of total offense altogether. On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks rushed for 177 yards in that game. If they can control the line of scrimmage like that then they should beat the Falcons in this one. Atlanta is, however, coming into this game on a four-game winning streak. The Falcons put up at least 33 points in each of those four victories, and they’ll be hoping that QB Matt Ryan (4,944 yards, 38 TD, 7 INT) will have this passing game clicking this weekend. When these teams met in October, Ryan threw for 310 yards with three touchdowns. That wasn’t enough for Atlanta, as Seattle won that game 26-24. And while the teams haven’t met in Atlanta since 2013, the Seahawks are 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS when facing the Falcons on the road since 1992. It’s also worth noting that road teams (Seattle) are 41-19 ATS over the last 10 seasons after having won two out of their last three games, in a game involving two good teams (winning percentage of 60% to 75%) in the second half of the season.
QB Russell Wilson (4,219 yards, 21 TD, 11 INT) played very well against the Lions last week, throwing for 224 yards with two touchdowns and no picks in the victory. Wilson completed 23 of his 30 pass attempts in that one, and it’ll take another efficient performance from him against Atlanta on Saturday. He struggled against this Falcons team early in the season, throwing for zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 26-24 win. Wilson was banged up in that game, though. He should be in for a much better performance this weekend. The player to watch in this one is, however, going to be RB Thomas Rawls (349 yards, 3 TD). Rawls was injured on-and-off throughout the regular season, but he was finally healthy when the Seahawks took on the Lions last week. Rawls rumbled for 161 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and he should have no problem putting up similar numbers against Atlanta. The Falcons allowed 106.3 yards per game on the ground this season, and also gave up 15 touchdowns as well. Those numbers are both worse than what the Lions did, so Rawls should be feeling confident. Defensively, the Seahawks must get pressure on Matt Ryan. If he is sitting comfortably in the pocket then he will pick Seattle apart this weekend.
Matt Ryan played well against the Seahawks early in the season, completing 27 of his 42 pass attempts for 335 yards, three touchdowns and only one pick in a close loss. If Ryan puts forth a similar performance then it’d be tough for Falcons fans to truly complain. WR Julio Jones (83 rec, 1,409 yards, 6 TD) was good in that game, hauling in seven passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Jones will need to be ready to go on Saturday, as going up against the “Legion of Boom” is a different animal in the postseason. WR Taylor Gabriel (35 rec, 579 yards, 6 TD) is a guy that can also make a huge difference in this one. Gabriel is inconsistent, but he did have six touchdowns over the final eight games of the regular season. He also had 60 or more receiving yards in five of those contests. If he can step it up then the Seahawks will not be able to send extra help Jones’ way. Atlanta will also need to find a way to get the ground game going. Both RBs Devonta Freeman (1,079 yards, 11 TD) and Tevin Coleman (520 yards, 8 TD) are talented runners, and they’ll need to make some plays in this game. If they can’t then Seattle will likely blow Atlanta out. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons must shut down the run. If they can do that then DE Vic Beasley (15.5 sacks) might be able to make Russell Wilson uncomfortable enough for the Seahawks to really struggle.