Over the past few seasons, the Atlanta Falcons have been one of the league’s best teams in the regular season. However, their play in the regular season never carried over into the playoffs. Since drafting quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons are 0-3 in the postseason.
Once again, the Falcons have posted one of the best records in the league this season, and are looking to advance in the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 season. The only problem is that the Seattle Seahawks stand in their way.
The Seahawks are coming off a playoff road win, and are now on a six-game winning streak that dates back to Week 13. Unfortunately, that victory came at a price.
Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons tore his ACL, and will be out for the remainder of the year. Even without their leading sacker, Seattle’s defense should still be able to make the Falcons’ offense one-dimensional.
The key matchup of this game will be Atlanta’s wide receivers versus Seattle’s big cornerbacks. This battle could go either way, and will possibly open the running game for Falcons running back Michael Turner.
Even if Turner has a good game, I think that Seattle’s running back Marshawn Lynch will be in position to have a monster game. Lynch is the league’s third-leading rusher, and will be up against a Falcons run defense that was ranked 21st in the league. In addition, Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson could have a great chance of contributing on the ground, as well as through the air.
With that being said, I feel that this game will be won by the team that runs the ball better. Seattle has not only one, but two threats in their backfield in Lynch and Wilson. I don’t expect much from either team’s passing game.
Atlanta will be playing to not only advance to the NFC Championship, but to give their teammate, tight end Tony Gonzalez, his first playoff victory in his 16th and final season in the league. That motivation worked for Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens last week, but it won’t work for the Falcons.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Falcons 13