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Jeff Schultz: Seattle Tough But Falcons Have Some Advantages


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Seattle tough but Falcons have some advantages (updated)

8:34 pm January 6, 2013, by Jeff Schultz

(Updated: 8:50 p.m. with opening odds.)

The Falcons last won a playoff game eight years ago (47-17 over St. Louis, Jan. 15, 2005). The have lost four straight since.

For that trend to change, they are going to have to beat a Seattle team that possesses: 1) a mobile quarterback (Russell Wilson); 2) a physical defense that held Washington to only 203 yards in offense (69 after the first two possessions); and 3) a powerful running game.

So you expected easy?

But after three playoff losses in the last four years, there are several positives for the Falcons going into their match-up against Seattle, which advanced after beating the Redskins 24-14 Sunday.

UPDATE: The Falcons have opened as only a two-point favorite over the Seahawks at LVH Superbook. Since home teams generally get three points, the line effectively means Seattle is considered one point “better” than Atlanta.

• 1.) Beat-up factor: The Seahawks are a tough team, as evidenced by them going 7-1 in the second half of the season after being only 4-4 at the turn, and then winning a road playoff game. But the question is: What do they have left in the tank after winning an emotional and physical game over the Redskins? The win in Washington did not come easy.

• 2.) Home field factor: The Falcons will be at home, where they’ve generally dominated: 7-1 this season and 33-7 in five regular seasons. (Then again, there was that lopsided playoff loss to Green Bay in 2010.) Seattle will be making its second East Coast trip in as many weeks from the upper left corner of the U.S. There’s a potential fatigue factor there.

• 3.) Mobile quarterback factor: The Falcons didn’t face Wilson this season. But they have played and beaten three noted mobile quarterbacks this year: Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Michael Vick (as well as Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford). So as impressive a season as Wilson has had, he doesn’t present a challenge the Falcons haven’t seen.

• 4.) Julio and Roddy factor: As effective as Seattle’s defense was against the Redskins, it’s worth noting Washington moved the ball effectively early, before Griffin became too beat up to run and function in the pocket. The Falcons’ primary receiving trio of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez still gives them an advantage that any defense is going to have difficulty dealing with.

• 5) Running game factor: This is Falcons’ biggest concern. Seattle can pound it with Marshawn Lynch (who rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown Sunday). Wilson gives the running game another dimension.If the Seahawks can run, they can control the clock and keep Matt Ryan and the offense on the sideline. The Falcons’ defense struggled against the run much of this season. They improved down the stretch, but then allowed 142 yards to Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin in the season finale. (We can debate how pumped the Falcons were for that meaningless game.) The Falcons’ own running game, meanwhile, has been ineffective for most of the season. They’ll need to get something from Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers on the ground.

The Seahawks are good. But they look less daunting than the New York Giants or Green Bay Packers did the last two years.

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Let's point out one more thing:

What happened the last time we played a terrible game against a divisional opponent with a big game following? A 34-0 routing of the defending champs. I think we can handle whatever the Seahawks try and cook up. Not calling for a rout, but we sure aren't on cruise. How often has Matt lost back to back games at home? I'll wait.

We are fully healthy and positioned where we've been waiting all season to be. This opportunity won't be squandered. No way no how. We are the better team. Better QB, better WRs, better TE, better secondary. This isn't RG3 and the Redskins. This is a pissed off behemoth the Seahawks are going to try and confront on Sunday in Atlanta. They will have to come back east again, where they have a terrible record historically, something these pundits continue to overlook with them but don't forget the 3 losses we have.

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The Falcons have opened as only a two-point favorite over the Seahawks at LVH Superbook. Since home teams generally get three points, the line effectively means Seattle is considered one point “better” than Atlanta.

Apparently Jeff Schultz really don't know quite how Sports Books operate. The Falcons being only a two-points favorite merely indicates that there are a lot of emotional Seattle bettors out there. Privately, the people who set these spreads may well feel the Falcons will probably beat the Seahawks by at least a touchdown. But if the Seahawks bettors are willing to give up a boatload of points, who are they to say "No"? What the spread most certainly does not indicate is that the LV Books consider the Seahawks to be "better".

(BTW: that "Home team automatically gets three points" stuff is a complete myth. Think about it – why should the Books "give" the home team (or, more exactly, the visiting team bettors) anything? If there is any "home field advantage" it is already factored into the spread, and it might not be three points.)

Look at the spread come Friday. I am fairly confident once the "heavy money" starts moving the Seahawks-Falcons spread will probably gain another two points.

Edited by Falcon Freddie
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I'm hardly what you'd call a rose-colored glasses-wearing kool-aide slurper and I was extremely disappointed at the crappy performance the Falcons trotted out in their last regular season game at the Georgia Dome against the very unimpressive Bucs. But I can not see any way the Seattle Seahawks can come into the Dome after such a hard-fought, debilitating game vs the Redskins. Especially since they have to make another 3,000 mile trek back to east to play a much better, battle-tested team in their house against arguably the most potent passing attack in the NFC. I agree with Jeff Schultz, no the Falcons probably won't be able to just show up on the field and blow the Seahawks out. They do have a good young QB and they have a great RB. But no way in hades is this team on the same level of talent, experience, coaching than the Falcons. I also don't think they'll come close to having the iron will, determination and pure grit the Falcons display when the game is close in the four period and Matt Ryan is leading this team down the field for a score. I think this game will be close for awhile, but I think the Falcons have too much offense for the Seahawks to keep up and at some point, they'll get tired, they'll start to see the handwriting on the wall and they'll throw in the towel. Falcons will win this game and might do so pretty handily.

Edited by PokerSteve
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