With Earl Thomas out, the Falcons at home, and that offense still moving my heart to sing, this Falcons team should have enough to win this game. It’s going to be a nerve-wracking and closer than we’d like, but ultimately, the Falcons edge it out and head to the NFC Championship Game. Goosebumps!
Falcons 34 - Seahawks 20
This is a game that brings up a lot of difficult emotions for me. As fans of this team, we’ve endured mostly heartbreaking defeats throughout the Matt Ryan era. In 2012, we saw a glimpse of what this team (and Matt Ryan) could do in the playoffs, even though they ultimately fell short. This is a new team, however, and Dan Quinn’s Falcons have proven that they are playing a new breed of fast and physical football. It’s resulted in the best offense in the NFL, and an opportunistic defense that feeds off of it.
Make no mistake, Atlanta is far and away the most dangerous offense in the NFL. Only 8 teams in NFL history can claim that they were better at scoring points than the 2016 Falcons. That is not something to be overlooked, and with the way Quinn has his team playing, they’re absolutely capable of beating any team in the NFL.
Seattle has largely been a poor team on the road, save the trip to New England. They struggle in hostile environments because their offensive line is largely inexperienced, and the defense has been having communication issues since the loss of Earl Thomas. They average 15.8 points on the road this season, and that will simply not cut it against the Falcons. The Seahawks only hope is that their defense plays their best game of the season and their offense is able to chew clock with the running game.
I don’t think that’s happening on the road in Atlanta. I expect the game to be hard fought and close into the third quarter, but the Falcons pull away at the end on the back of several big plays. I really hope this prediction comes true. These Falcons deserve to fight for the NFC Championship, and would have a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl against the AFC’s best.
Falcons 31 - Seahawks 24
I’ll be honest, this game makes me more nervous than some fans are showing right now. The trio of Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Frank Clark can wreck offensive lines. If our offensive line can’t hold up against these guys, it won’t matter who is in the Seahawks secondary. In order for this Falcons team to win, we need Matt Ryan to have a relatively clean jersey at the end of the game.
That said, this OL has held up against some fierce competition this year. We’ve faced Justin Houston, Khalil Mack and Von Miller with good results. There’s reason to believe they’ll hold up enough, but it still gives me pause. Ultimately, the difference here will be not having to face Earl Thomas. A fully healthy Seahawks defense is a nightmare, but without Thomas they can be passed on.
As for Seattle’s offense, this is the game where I think Freeney (yes, not Beasley) will shine the brightest. I think we’ll use Beasley more to spy on Wilson and keep him from beating us with his legs, while Dwight Freeney and Adrian Clayborn are allowed to wreak havoc against this woeful unit. The Seahawks will still score points, but I also believe this defense gets home enough to give us the edge.
Falcons 30 - Seahawks 26
As long as they don’t get dominated in the trenches, the Falcons should prevail in the rematch. The offense is more dynamic with Taylor Gabriel and Aldrick Robinson emerging into capable options. Kyle Shanahan should make adjustments following the first half debacle. They can’t afford to use many empty set formations. That allowed Bobby Wagner to find open gaps on twisting blitzes. If the offensive line holds up, Matt Ryan should continue his incredible season. It will be a grueling battle. Seattle has one of the best rosters in the league. In the end, the offense makes enough plays and Russell Wilson makes a costly mistake under pressure.
Falcons 35 - Seahawks 31
The Seahawks may be a little more bark than bite this time, but they will no doubt be the toughest test this Falcons team has faced thus far. I expect Russell Wilson to be twice the annoyance he was in round 1. No Earl Thomas leaves a massive hole in the Seahawks’ defense, and as long as the Falcons OL does its job, we should be able to exploit it early and often.
I think the Falcons win, but only if they play the way they’ve been playing. The offense takes care of the ball and the defense does just enough. If anything starts to go off kilter in this game, the Falcons will lose, and we’ll be left wondering (once again) what could’ve been. Either of these teams could feasibly make a Super Bowl run, so a win here could be all the momentum the Falcons need to push forward.