It has become very clear over the last several years that the team with the best record going into the playoffs doesn’t necessarily have the best chance to win. Falcons fans do not want to believe that to be true as they enter the postseason with the best record in the NFL. They have a very tough challenge in their first game as they host the red hot Seattle Seahawks. Led by charismatic rookie QB Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, their offense has recently started to keep pace with their strong defense. That is a recipe for success, but Atlanta will look to end it this week.
The matchup to watch for is certainly the Falcons passing attack against the Seattle pass defense. With Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman both available in this game after some controversy over a positive drug test, Matt Ryan will have his hands full. Even with elite talent at the WR position, passing the ball will not come easy against these two corner. Browner and Sherman are both big, strong, physical corners that can match up with the best wideouts in the league. They may not have top line speed, but that has not slowed them down a bit this year. However, they have not faced the likes of Julio Jones this season. Jones has the explosive speed to beat any corner and the strength the muscle the ball away from anyone. Plus, with another elite option in Roddy White, Seattle’s secondary will be challenged more than they have all year. This is a perfect case of strength versus strength.
Another big factor in this game is Russell Wilson and Lynch against Mike Nolan’s defense. Seattle has become one of the most balanced teams in the NFC this year, and it is all thanks to the emergence of Russell Wilson. We knew Marshawn Lynch was a great running back, but nobody expected Wilson to play this well in his rookie season. In fact, most believed Matt Flynn would run away with the starting job after getting a big contract this offseason. He wasn’t even able to win the job out of training camp. That is how impressive Wilson was to the coaching staff, and he proved them right. He has been able to improve throughout the season as the coaching staff has allowed him to do more and more. That could be bad news for Atlanta.
Still, Wilson didn’t look outstanding last week in Washington. He played mediocre throughout most of the contest and was able to keep his team in the game mostly because Washington struggled to score. That is either because Griffin was not healthy or the defense stepped in a big way. Either way, Wilson struggled a bit against a worse defense in Washington.
Atlanta has been under appreciated all year from the National media, mainly because they haven’t dominated their opponents this year. They also lack the star power that other teams in the playoffs have. So it really shouldn’t come as a shock that while I am writing this, Atlanta is only a one point favorite despite playing at home. The Falcons can prove how good they truly are by defeating the surging Seahawks this Sunday.