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By the Numbers Stats Preview for Falcons @ Seahawks

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How does the offensive firepower of the Falcons match-up against the defensive strength of the Seahawks?

Divisional Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons

After last Sunday’s convincing win over the Denver Broncos, the Atlanta Falcons (4-1) march onward towards their most difficult test: the Seattle Seahawks (3-1). Pete Carroll’s team is well-coached and talented, and in many ways is a mirror-image of the Falcons.

The defense is largely a 4-3 under front with lots of Cover 3, and the offense is zone-based with a play-action passing attack. However, the personnel is quite different: Quinn has a deadly offense chock full of playmakers, but Carroll has an experienced and athletic defense.

This is likely to be one of the top games to watch this weekend, even if you aren’t a Falcons fan. If you aren’t a Falcons fan, I’m not sure what you’re doing here. Welcome. Let’s get to the numbers.

Offense

Total Points/game: Atlanta Falcons 35 (1st), Seattle Seahawks 19.8 (21st)
Total Yards/game: Atlanta Falcons 457.4 (1st), Seattle Seahawks 357.5 (15th)
Passing Yards/game: Atlanta Falcons 333.4 (1st), Seattle Seahawks 264.5 (11th)
Passing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 12 (T-2nd), Seattle Seahawks 6 (T-19th)
Rushing Yards/game: Atlanta Falcons 124.0 (7th), Seattle Seahawks 93.0 (18th)
Rushing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 6 (T-3rd), Seattle Seahawks 2 (T-25th)
Third Down Efficiency: Atlanta Falcons 39% (17th), Seattle Seahawks 40% (15th)
Turnover Margin: Atlanta Falcons +3 (T-6th), Seattle Seahawks -1 (T-18th)

Defense

Total Points/game: Atlanta Falcons 28 (27th), Seattle Seahawks 13.5 (3rd)
Total Yards/game: Atlanta Falcons 388.8 (26th), Seattle Seahawks 264.0 (1st)
Passing Yards/game: Atlanta Falcons 290.2 (27th), Seattle Seahawks 183.8 (3rd)
Passing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 14 (T-31st), Seattle Seahawks 1 (1st)
Rushing Yards/game: Atlanta Falcons 98.6 (15th), Seattle Seahawks 80.2 (7th)
Rushing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 2 (T-4th), Seattle Seahawks 3 (T-10th)
Third Down Efficiency: Atlanta Falcons 39% (18th), Seattle Seahawks 30% (1st)
Sacks: Atlanta Falcons 10 (T-17th), Seattle Seahawks 12 (T-9th)

The Falcons dominate the offensive statistics, as will be the case against almost any opponent. Atlanta’s offense is #1 in scoring, total yardage, and passing yardage. They’re top-3 in passing TDs and rushing TDs, and 7th in rushing yardage. After a tough week at Denver, Atlanta’s third down efficiency has fallen to 39% (17th). Seattle is slightly better at 40% (15th), which is their only advantage. Otherwise, the Seahawks are a league-average offense in most stats.

On defense, the Seahawks are among the best in the league in virtually every category. Not one of their stats ranks outside the top-10. They’re best in the league in passing TDs (only 1 allowed), total yardage, and third down efficiency. Atlanta’s defense isn’t quite as bad as it was to start the season, but is still a bottom-tier defense in most stats. The bright spot is the run defense, which is 15th in yardage, and the Falcons have only allowed 2 rushing TDs through five games.

This looks like another great contest between an elite offense and an elite defense. Last week, the Falcons offense won. The Seahawks are likely a better all-around defense than the Broncos, but lack the star-power. Atlanta’s best hope is to try and run the ball successfully, and use play-action to open up opportunities downfield. If the Falcons’ offensive line can give Ryan time in the pocket, this offense is nearly impossible to stop.

On defense, the Falcons’ best chance comes by controlling the line of scrimmage: pressure Wilson and shut down the running game. The return of the rookie LBs will inject a lot more speed into the defense, and should help counter Wilson’s scrambling ability.

A game-script similar to Denver—getting an early lead and forcing the opponent to pass—would be very beneficial to Atlanta on both sides of the ball. Seattle’s weakness is it’s offensive tackles: they are awful. If Wilson is forced to drop back often, the newfound Atlanta pass rush will have a chance to cause chaos.

What do you think about the game? Does Dan Quinn get revenge on the team that got him a Super Bowl ring?