With the conclusion of the first round of the NFL playoffs, the stage has been set for next week at the Georgia Dome: Seahawks versus Falcons.
Seattle to travel to Atlanta
As Robert Griffin III and the Redskins fell apart at the seams on Sunday night, Seattle's impressive season continued, and they will now face the difficult task of playing the NFC's top seed.
This game figures to be a good one from a pure football perspective, as the Seahawks matchup very well against the Falcons. We've seen in previous weeks how mobile quarterbacks like RGIII and Cam Newton give Mike Nolan's defense issues, and Russell Wilson could certainly follow suit.
Lynch Could Present Major Problems for Falcons
The biggest concern for the Falcons heading into this game is the prospect of facing Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. Finishing 21st in the league against the run, Atlanta's defense will be susceptible to some big plays on the ground—as seen in Week 17 against Tampa Bay's Doug Martin.
Lynch gained 132 rushing yards in the Wild Card game against Washington, good for a franchise playoff record. The Redskins surrendered those yards despite being the fifth best team at stopping the run in the regular season.
Clemons Out for Season?
The Seahawks' defense has been among the most formidable units in the NFL of late (if not the most), but it looks like they may be without their best pass rusher.
Reports are coming in that defensive end Chris Clemons tore his ACL against Washington, which would effectively end his season. Clemons, a former UGA Bulldawg, racked up 11.5 sacks in the regular season, which led his team. While one should never wish a player to be injured, the absence of Clemons does make matters far easier for Atlanta's offensive line, who will be tasked with keeping Matt Ryan upright and creating holes for the running game—the latter of which they've struggled with mightily.
William Moore Returns to Practice
As the Falcons continue to get healthy, safety William Moore has returned to practice for the first time in over a month. The Missouri alum believes he'll be 100 percent by next Sunday, and if that's the case, the only starter who could be playing significantly below full health would be John Abraham.
Still, Moore has missed a lot of action and hasn't seen the field in quite some time.
"Chris has been working on the side," Coach Smith said. "Again, we don't have to talk about injuries, but he's been working on the side. We'll have to wait and see where he is. Probably of the guys, he's not as far along as other guys that we've been talking about."
Falcons Favored, But Not By Much
Atlanta is opening up as an early 2.5 point favorite over Seattle, according to Odds Shark. While the Falcons isn't favored by much, the current line is justified given the way the Seahawks are playing of late and Atlanta's knack for keeping games closer than they should.