The Falcons now stand at 11-2 atop of the NFC as we take on the Seahawks on the road, so we bring you officially our 8th post in our Best Case/Worst Case evaluation of this week’s matchup. Show us some love and rec both of our posts.
This is the 2nd part of Turner_The_Burner's post Best Case Scenario vs. Seahawks. See it here
Flipping it to the Seahawks
As it has been said here I’m going to play the devils advocate here and speak about where the Seahawks can hurt us bad. If I’m not mistaken a win here will clinch us a playoff birth, so let’s be the 1st NFC team to lock up the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks are an extremely inconsistent team who, if they turn up to play, could give us a lot of trouble, especially in the passing game. So the worst case scenario for the Falcons is – Washington isn’t contained, Hasselbeck beats our secondary and Ryan throws a few picks.
Washington isn’t contained: Leon Washington is one of the best kickoff returners this year. He has an average of 27.8 yards per return which includes 3 TD’s. We have let one TD and an average of 21.7 yards per return; however I believe there have been 2 returns for touchdowns that were nullified by penalties, thank god.
However Washington isn’t nearly as good with rushing the ball. He has rushed 24 times for 74 yards (3.1 average). The real threat in the running game comes from Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. Since coming to the Seahawks in week 5, Lynch has rushed 119 times for 385 yards (3.2 average) and 5 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Forsett has 105 attempts for 474 yards and 2 td’s. Over the course of the season, the Seahawks have established a notable, albeit fairly unproductive, running game. There is however a lot of potential for them to breakout and do some damage due to their personnel and Leon Washington in open space is a threat regardless of whether it’s on the kickoff or during the ‘Hawks offensive possesions. If we don’t cover him well, it could ruin the party for Atlanta.
Hasselbeck beats our secondary: Behind Brian Finneran, Matt Hasselbeck is the greatest player over 80 years old. But in his old age consistency has been a problem; against the Saints he threw for 366 yards with 72% accuracy, 1 TD and no picks. Against the Raiders he threw for 163 yards with 41% accuracy, no TD’s and 1 pick. The passer ratings were 104.9 and 44.1 respectively. Looking at this, it’s not hard to see that we could get beaten, or we might have a great day to start fixing our poor pass defense ranking.
The Seattle receivers are fairly banged up at the moment. They lost Deion Branch to the Patriots, Deon Butler is out with a broken leg, Mike Williams is hurting with an ankle injury and Ben Obomanu has hurt his hand, meaning all 3 probably won’t play. John Carlson iwill most likely be listed as probable with a hip injury and so chances are he’ll play, after missing a couple games, but not at 100%. This means 3 of their top 4 wide receivers will be out; the only healthy active receivers are Brandon Stokley (29 receptions), Golden Tate (17 receptions), Ruvell Martin (4 receptions). All 3 combine for a grand total of: 50 receptions, 630 yards (12.6 average), and 1 touchdown. I have a good feeling about this.
Despite that, if Hasselbeck turns up on the day, we might be in for a problem. As I have said, they are stacked at running back, and the Falcons rarely play well against screens and short completions out of the backfield. As such, the damaged WR corps could encourage some RB receptions, and could allow Hasselbeck to minimize the pressure he faces. It definitely all depends on which Seahawks offense shows up, but on their day Seattle can be fierce.
Ryan throws a few picks: Although he continues to deliver in the clutch, Matt Ryan hasn’t been himself recently, which could hurt us badly. In a game where we play the 30th ranked pass defense and a team with a -7 turnover differential; you would think that we could dominate, and we should. But there are a few players in the Seattle backfield who have helped them defy the odds and get to their 6-7 record.
After tying (I believe) an NFL record of 5 games without a turnover, Matt Ryan has thrown 3 picks in 2 games; not game breaking but definitely a huge hindrance for our team. Oh, and Matt Ryan - when you are up at the end of the 2nd half we would very much like it if you would not throw into triple coverage as not only does it hurt your stats it also doesn’t help us when trying to prove points about why you are so good. Thank you. On the Seattle side of the field their secondary is opportunistic and, in my opinion, the best collection of players on their team. Seattle’s two starting corners, Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings, have only 2 picks between them, and haven’t been playing that well. Trufant is definitely playing worse then his 7 interception 2007 season, but he is still a threat, whilst Jennings is a former 1st round pick. Their safeties on the other hand are playing very well and are having great seasons. Jordan Babineaux lost his starting job to the rookie Earl Thomas, and the "better Babineaux" contest to the USS Babs. Since then, Thomas has grabbed 5 picks and a TD off a blocked punt. Lawyer Milloy and Babineaux are good pass rushers with 5.5 sacks between them, whilst Babineaux also has an interception. The biggest threat is the rookie Earl Thomas, who reminds me of Jairus Byrd, the FS for the Bills who had a blindingly good rookie year. If Ryan throws picks, it could pump up Seattle’s 12th man and shorten the field for them, and could really derail our gameplan of long, steady drives.
That is all for the analysis for this week. Winning seasons are fun, but so is being the NFC champion. So finally good luck to the Falcons and I hope they get a comfortable win to keep on their winning ways.