The Atlanta Falcons host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, January 14th in the NFC Divisional Round. This will be a rematch of the thrilling 26-24 home victory by the Seahawks back on October 16th earlier this season.
Atlanta (11-5) took the No. 2 seed thanks to four straight victories to close out the season. The Falcons also got a little help from the Seahawks, who lost at home to the Cardinals in Week 16 to pave the way for them to get that first-round bye.
Seattle (11-5-1) improved to 8-1 at home this season with a 26-6 victory over the Detroit Lions in the wild card round. The Seahawks rushed for 177 yards as a team, and their defense came through with one of their most impressive performances of the season in limiting the Lions to just 231 total yards.
Kickoff inside the Georgia Dome is set for 4:35 EST Saturday afternoon with FOX providing the television coverage. Taking a look at the NFL odds, I find Atlanta as a 4.5-point favorite over Seattle with a total set of 51.5 points.
Obviously both teams are going to be motivated here. But I think the Falcons have the extra motivation after the way they lost in Seattle earlier this season, 24-26. The refs missed a pass interference call on Richard Sherman that would have set the Falcons up for a game-winning field goal. And that loss has left a sour taste in the Falcons’ mouths that they would love to wipe away here.
To be honest, I think the Falcons are the best team in the NFL. They rank 1st in the league in yards per play differential, outgaining teams by 1.1 yards per play. They average 6.7 yards per play on offense and give up 5.6 per play on defense. They are also 4th in the NFL in yardage differential, outgaining teams by 44.6 yards per game. This team just doesn’t get the same kind of respect as other top teams like the Cowboys and Patriots.
The Falcons rank 1st in the NFL in scoring offense, averaging 33.7 points per game. They are also 2nd in total offense at 415.8 yards per game. They have so many weapons this year that they are just so tough to tame. Julio Jones has been as efficient as ever, Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu are two of the most underrated receivers in the game, and Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman can both do it all rushing and receiving. Not to mention, center Alex Mack was a huge addition to this offensive line and has the boys up front playing as well as they have in a long time.
Certainly the Falcons don’t have a top defense, but they aren’t as bad on that side of the ball as they’re made out to be. They give up points and yards because opponents are consistently playing from behind. But they were much better down the stretch, giving up 19 or fewer points in four of their final six games. And the lone exceptions were the 29 points given up to the Chiefs in which 9 of those came from KC’s defense. And they allowed 32 to the Saints in the finale, but they had held them to only 13 points until fourth quarter garbage time.
The Seahawks were a great home team this year, but it has been a different story on the road. They are just 3-4-1 SU & 3-5 ATS in all road games this year. Their offense was abysmal on the road, averaging just 15.9 points per game.
The Seahawks were a great home team this year, but it has been a different story on the road. They are just 3-4-1 SU & 3-5 ATS in all road games this year. Their offense was abysmal on the road, averaging just 15.9 points per game. They lost 10-38 at Green Bay, 5-14 at Tampa Bay, 20-25 at New Orleans and 3-9 at Los Angeles. And they were fortunate to win 25-23 at San Francisco in Week 17.
Teams have been able to take advantage of the absence of Earl Thomas down the stretch. The Packers put up 38 points on the Seahawks, the Cardinals put up 34, and the 49ers even had some success with 23 points. You can just imagine what the best offense in the NFL is going to do against this Seattle defense this week. Matt Ryan threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns on this Seattle defense in the first meeting, and that was with Thomas in the lineup.
Seattle is 3-12 ATS in its last 15 road games after allowing 6 points or fewer last game. Atlanta is 9-2 ATS after allowing 6 or more yards per play in its previous game over the last two seasons. The Seahawks are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games following a ATS win. The Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last six games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game.
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