The Falcons are basically out of the playoff race and are currently hurtling towards a top-5 draft pick in 2020. Yet, they still have to play football for the next 10 weeks and their assignment doesn’t get any easier with the 5-2 Seahawks coming to town. QB Russell Wilson is a legitimate MVP candidate at this point and Seattle has scored 27 or more points for 6 straight games. Let’s look at how these teams match up.
Note: Assessments partially based off of PFF scores.
In the trenches
The Falcons defense has one, lone bright spot this year: They’ve been much better against the run. The combination of Grady Jarrett and Tyeler Davison has been fantastic in that respect. Unfortunately, every other aspect of this defensive front has been frustrating.
The Falcons are dead last in the league with 5 sacks through 7 games. They’re currently on a streak of four consecutive games without a sack that ties an NFL record. If they don’t get one on Sunday, they’ll own the record outright. This is a huge indictment of guys like Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley and Allen Bailey. This Falcons defensive front just isn’t getting it done.
For their part, the Seahawks offensive line should be an opportunity for Atlanta to break the sack-less games streak. This entire unit - from George Fant at LT to Germain Ifedi - is just not playing great. Grady Jarrett may look to take advantage of rookie Jamarco Jones at right guard, who is arguably the weakest of this bunch.
While I still have faith in Jarrett being able to generate pressure and disrupt some plays, it’s the other guys on this line that just haven’t gotten it done. The promising start from this defensive line over the first two games has come completely unraveled. Don’t trust them to do much of anything at this point.
The skill positions
With Desmond Trufant set to miss another game, the team will turn to Kendall Sheffield yet again. He’s a rookie and mostly looks like one, though he’s shown some flashes of competence. Isaiah Oliver is not as bad as everyone makes him out to be, and is actually a good run defender, but he’s still a liability in coverage. Damontae Kazee has taken a step back - though, to be fair, so has the rest of the defense. Ricardo Allen is also not having a great season while Kemal Ishmael and Jamal Carter are uninspiring replacements for Keanu Neal.
Russell Wilson is having one of his best seasons ever. He’s still as elusive as he’s ever been, which will make bringing him down even harder. Chris Carson is having a good season as the primary back. Will Dissly has been a surprisingly good receiving option at tight end, so losing him will hurt. There isn’t a true stand out receiver on this team, but the combination of Tyler Lockett, rookie D.K. Metcalf and Jaron Brown have been decent to good this year. This is not a unit loaded with top-tier talent (outside of Wilson), but they’re getting the job done.
No contest. Even with a healthy Trufant, Wilson is the difference maker here. This could get ugly.
In what could be Dan Quinn’s last game as head coach, he’ll get to feature his defense against the team that arguably got him the Atlanta job. It will be somewhat fitting, then, that the Seattle offense is likely going to win this match up overwhelmingly. Unless Quinn can suddenly turn this ship around - and at 1-6, I’m not sure who believes that will happen - you can expect this to be a long-day for the Atlanta defense.