Tale Of The Tape: Seattle Seahawks At Atlanta Falcons
- QuarterbackThe Seahawks are 8-1 and in first place in the NFC West, but they aren’t exactly rolling after their 27-24 overtime victory at home over the winless Tampa Bay Bucs. Russell Wilson and the Seattle offensive got off to a slow start and that could be quite costly against a struggling team like the Falcons that is desperate to get a victory at home.The Falcons have been broken by injuries this year and are just a shell of the team that got to the NFC Championship game last year. Matt Ryan does not have his weapons as Julio Jones is out for the year and Roddy White has missed the last three games, but some of it is on him. Ryan threw three interceptions in the loss at Carolina and he struggles under pressure.
- OffenseThe Seahawks need to play with a bit more urgency on offense. They fell behind the Buccaneers 21-0 and that won’t work against a good team. While Marshawn Lynch is one of the best running backs in the game and punishes opposing tacklers, the Seahawks need to get wideout Percy Harvin into the lineup to give them a sense of explosiveness that has been missing.The Falcons are almost certainly out of the playoff race at the halfway point – barring an unforeseen turnaround – so the pressure should be off. The return of Steven Jackson to the backfield is a positive development, but the Falcons need the return of a healthy White to give them more dependability. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is still a valuable red zone target.
- DefenseThe Seahawks have been the most dangerous and explosive defense in the league, but that unit did not get its wake-up call until the second half against Tampa Bay. That cannot sit well with head coach Pete Carroll, who must find a way to get his team back on track without any more slip ups. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had a sensational game with 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks.The Falcons have not been stout at the point of attack and struggle when the game is on the line. That’s not a good combination. While they appear to have enough speed and quickness, the Falcons lost much of their strength against the run when versatile Kroy Biermann was lost for the season with a knee injury. Linebacker Paul Worrilow was credited with 19 tackles against the Panthers.
- Special TeamsIf the game is close, special teams could give the Seahawks an advantage. They do a solid job in punt and kickoff coverage and they have the speed in Jermaine Kearse to make a big play in the return game. Steven Hauschka is a dependable placekicker while punter Jon Ryan can drop the ball inside the 20.The Falcons are decent at special teams, but they are not as good in coverage as the Seahawks and Jacquizz Rodgers is unlikely to bring back a long return. Matt Bryant has been a dependable field goal kicker, while punter Matt Bosher has excellent leg strength.
The Seahawks are going to have to play much better than they did in Week Nine against the Bucs if they are going to beat a desperate team in Atlanta. Seattle usually finds a way to win, but they have not been at their best on the road this season. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor