G’day Falcons fans, and welcome back to the contribution I, in collaboration with fellow Aussie Falcons fan dunlagh, hope to be making to the Falcoholic. I’ll analyse the best case scenario for the Falcons, with what are, in my opinion, a few keys to victory, while dunlagh will play devil’s advocate and look at how the game will turn out if we play at our true worst.
I told you last week that late posts were becoming a trend, and that we’d get a post in early this week. Meanwhile, the Falcons scored within a minute of the Carolina game. As we’re now posting on Tuesday night Australian time, it’s fair to say this is not a late post. Sorry for breaking one trend, let’s hope the other continues this week vs Seattle. The Panthers game went as smoothly as we could have expected, with some bonus Carolina run game (just because we’re not allowed to have everything apparently), and now the season rolls on towards week 15 and the last of our NFC West matchups. In my opinion, the Seahawks pose both the biggest and least threat to us out of all teams from the NFC West, as they have the immeasurable tendency to be hot one week and icy cold the next (a bit like the Metrodome…too soon?). One constant for the ‘Hawks has been their impressive special teams, so that should be an area of focus for us. As such, the best case scenario vs Seattle comes if we contain Leon Washington, unleash Roddy and build on our defensive momentum.
Contain Leon Washington: Whilst Michael Turner continues to crush all defenders in his path, Seattle’s #33 impacts the game with his returns. Leon has taken a league leading 3 kickoffs back for touchdowns this year, and averages over 27 yards per return. He also leads the league in 40+ yard returns with 7, and has taken back a punt 84 yards. Basically, Leon Washington is Eric Weems on crack. Whilst our special teams has sured up significantly, to the point of being a driving force for our teams success rather than just the third phase of football, since the addition of Kroy Biermann and Stephen Nicholas to the coverage unit, this is easily the best special teams we’ve faced (and possibly the best in the league). If Michael Koenen is on this week, and can keep Leon taking touchbacks, that’s a big win for the Falcons. If not, we could see a lot of shortened fields for Matt Hasselbeck to work with, which I’d rather avoid if at all possible. Containing Washington will be a big task for the Falcons, but if done successfully could make for a huge day for our defense.
Unleash Roddy: A man who needs no introduction; Roddy White leads the league in receptions and yards, but hasn’t had a 100 yard game since his domination of the Ravens. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have allowed seven 100 yard games to receivers, and a further 98 yard game to to Steve Breaston. Roddy has been on fire in the past two games, even if the numbers don’t dazzle at the usual #84 standard, and has delivered when called upon. Essentially, a meeting with Roddy spells disaster for the 30th ranked pass defense in the league. The Seahawks also allow the second most yards per game, and rank 20th against the run, so Michael Turner could explode yet again. However, with a solid but jumpy Ryan being present in the last few games, look for him to rebound with a vengeance against the lowly Seahawks secondary. Locking on to his favourite target could be the bounce back Ryan needs from two games in a row with a pick (even garbage time ‘going into halftime’ picks show up on the stat sheet Ice), and could result in an unleashed and fired up Roddy leaving Seattle with over 100 receptions and 1300 yards for the year.
Build on our defensive momentum: A casual 5 sacks from our DE rotation really fired me up last week, to the point where I didn’t even mind that Chauncey Davis and JA98 we’re on the field for prolonged periods of the game. The Falcons pass defense, the most criticised aspect of our team, stood up last weak (admittedly against a struggling offensive unit) and left Carolina giving up less than 80 net passing yards. Our rush defense, the same reliable run defense which allowed only two 100+ yard runners all year, has come under fire in the past two weeks, allowing 151 and 212 yards against Tampa Bay and Carolina respectively. Rushing defense shouldn’t be an issue this week against the the 31st ranked Seahawks rushing attack which averages a shade under 85 yards a game on the ground. As a good rush defense coming up against a poor ground attack, we should be able to keep the Seahawks below 70 yards for the day. The Seahawks average 6.8 yards per pass play, but have thrown 15 interceptions on the year. A solid defensive game against Jimmy Clausen may have instilled confidence in the much maligned Atlanta secondary, and we may see a few big plays on Sunday as a result. If we can do what we’re supposed to do, and continue with our excellent passing defense, we might see another sack frenzy, many three and outs or just general success in the field position battle.
At the start of the year I saw us going 11-5. Anything less than 10 wins was unacceptable, but anything above 12 was seriously impressive. We have a chance this weekend to get to the seriously impressive level, clinch a playoff berth and get pretty darn close to wrapping up the first seed in the NFC. Judging by how they played today, the Ravens probably won’t do us any favours against the Saints, but here’s hoping! A win against Seattle sees us go 3-0 in our road stretch, and DOL has an interesting article here about how that would put the Falcons in a rather elite group of road warriors. I feel this week’s game could go to the Seahawks if we make a few mistakes, but shouldn’t if we take care of business and simply do what we’ve been doing all year (minus the prevent defense after halftime please!). Here’s hoping that this time next week the Falcons have wrapped up 12-2 and get to head back to the comfy confines of the Georgia Dome. Be sure to check out dunlagh’s article here and finally, go Falcons!
One final note: dunlagh and I write these separately and then usually read them for the first time once they're on the Falcoholic. I realise I wrote we should contain Leon Washington and he wrote what will happen if we don't. Totally not planned, sorry for doubling up, but it just goes to show you; this Washington kid has skills. CONTAIN!