Atlanta Falcons Opponent Profile: Seahawks Defense Hoping To Contain Matt Ryan

By Shawn Lealos

The Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl title back in 2014 and then made it back again, only to lose, in 2015 against the Patriots. After falling to Carolina in the playoffs last year, the Hawks are back in the hunt and proved they belong by dismantling the Detroit Lions in the wild card round of the playoffs. This Saturday, the Seahawks travel to Atlanta to face one of the best offenses in the NFL in the Falcons. Seattle will have to find a way to slow down Atlanta’s explosive offensive unit in order to win and move forward to the conference championship. Here is a look at the Seattle Seahawks as they head into their big game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Seattle Seahawks Season Record

The Seattle Seahawks almost had a chance to win the first round bye that ended up going to the Atlanta Falcons. However, while the Falcons won their final four games to clinch the bye, the Seahawks’ loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Eve knocked them down to the wild card round. Seattle finished the year with a 10-5-1 record, but two of the losses came against poor teams like the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints and the tie was against the same Cardinals team that would beat them later in the season.

Seattle Seahawks On Offense

Part of the reason for the puzzling losses is a rushing offense that has struggled to find consistency since Marshawn Lynch announced his retirement after the 2015 NFL season. Christine Michael had the most rushing yards on the Seahawks team, but Seattle waived him and he now plays with the Green Bay Packers. Thomas Rawls has spent a lot of time injured this season and has only played in nine regular season games. However, he exploded against Detroit in the wild card game for 161 yards, only his second 100-yard game of the season. He had 22 yards combined in the two games to end the regular season.

Russell Wilson is still the star of this offense. He threw for over 4,000 yards this season for the second year in a row and had 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Without someone like Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, Wilson has had to carry this team on his shoulders and won enough to get them back into the playoffs. Discounting the loss to the Cardinals at the end of the season, Wilson threw only one touchdown and eight interceptions in the other four losses and tie. When Wilson is hot, the team can win. When he struggles, almost anyone can beat Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks On Defense

This is where the real battle rests. The Atlanta Falcons have the No. 1 offense in the playoffs this season and ranked behind only the New Orleans Saints for all regular season teams. They average 415.8 yards per game, with 317.1 yards through the air, and are almost impossible to stop—the Seahawks have their work cut out for them. However, Seattle ranks fifth in total defense, only allowing 318.7 total yards per game.

The Seahawks’ biggest stars are still on defense. Bobby Wagner led the NFL with 167 tackles this season and both Frank Clark and Cliff Avril broke into double-digit sacks for the season. Add in Richard Sherman’s four interceptions and Avril’s five forced fumbles and you have a team that can win games. They just need to force the Falcons to make mistakes to move on in the NFL playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks Players To Watch

Russell Wilson – The rushing game is never consistent so it is up to Wilson to outscore the high-powered Atlanta Falcons offense. He is fully capable of it, but he has to avoid mistakes and score touchdowns both with his arm and legs if Seattle wants to move on in the playoffs.

Richard Sherman – The one man on this team who plays with a desire to always be the best is Richard Sherman. He is the star of this defense and seems determined to change the course of the game every snap. Sherman is the guy who will look to shut down Julio Jones, and could make a huge difference in this game.

Outlook

This is going to be a big-time playoff game. The Atlanta Falcons have one of the best offenses in the entire NFL and the Seattle Seahawks have one of the best defenses. On the other hand, Seattle’s offense is inconsistent and the Falcons defense makes too many mental mistakes. This is going to come down to whether or not the Seahawks can slow down the Falcons. If they can, they can win this game, but more than likely, Atlanta’s magical season will continue.

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