For the third week in a row, we commence with the naming of five Atlanta Falcons that you should keep a close eye on in their matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
This weekend’s action offers the Falcons their best opportunity to get a win, and they’ll need several of these players to step up to get one.
TE Kyle Pitts
Much ado has been made about Pitts’ slow start thus far this season, but perhaps he’s ripe for a breakout against the Seahawks. You can be sure that Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has heard the criticisms and will put in a bit more effort to feed him the ball.
Getting Pitts the ball in the red zone could do wonders to change the narrative about his lack of involvement in the offense, but it may be tough against a Seahawks defense that currently ranks second best in the NFL in defensive red-zone efficiency, only allowing a score on two of nine opposing red zone trips.
WR Olamide Zaccheaus
Despite being stingy in the red zone, the Seahawks are still vulnerable to the big play, having allowed a touchdown in each of their first two games that went for over 30 yards. In Week 1 against the Broncos, it came on a 67-yard touchdown to Jerry Jeudy, who beat Seahawks rookie cornerback Coby Bryant on one of just two plays the latter participated in that game. Bryant then started this past week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers as a replacement for an injured Justin Coleman at nickel cornerback, and proceeded to give up four catches, miss three tackles, and get flagged twice for pass interference and illegal contact. No doubt, it has been a rough start for Bryant.
But those struggles bode well for the Falcons and Zaccheaus, who has been the team’s primary slot receiver this year and possesses speed that could result in one of those explosive scores on Sunday. There should be ample opportunities for Zaccheaus to take advantage of Bryant, as it looks like Coleman will miss another week of action.
DT Grady Jarrett
Defensively, Grady Jarrett will once again be leading the way for the Falcons' pass rush. He has routinely dominated the Seahawks in past matchups. Across five games against Seattle dating back to 2016, Jarrett has accumulated 3.5 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, 4 tackles for loss, and 21 pressures (according to PFF).
The Seahawks' interior offensive line has struggled thus far this year, especially right guard Gabe Jackson, who has given up 9 pressures and currently ranks 64th out of 72 guards based on PFF’s pass blocking grades. Of course, Jarrett’s success against Seattle isn’t some great secret, so expect them to do their best to double-team him as much as possible, which should free up other individuals across the Falcons front to make plays.
DT Anthony Rush
One such player could be Falcons nose tackle Anthony Rush, who will also have an opportunity to shine this week against a Seahawks running game that likes to attack the middle. According to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks have run the ball 69 percent of the time up the middle, the fourth highest frequency in the league thus far this season.
That means running right at Rush, who will be matched up with undersized center Austin Blythe. This will be a great opportunity for Rush and the rest of the Falcons' interior to show that they’ve solidified a run defense that has been only sporadically effective thus far this season.
CB A.J. Terrell
In the secondary, Terrell hasn’t had the best start to 2022 given how good he was in 2021, but he gets a chance at redemption on Sunday against the Seahawks. Things won’t be easy for him, facing quality wide receivers like D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. But most of Terrell’s issues have come in the red zone, and this weekend’s matchup offers a chance to rebound because it features Seattle’s struggling red-zone offense (tied for last in the NFL) against the Falcons' struggling red-zone defense (tied for 30th).
Something has to give as it features the clash of a very stoppable force against a very movable object. And should the Falcons' red-zone defense prevail, it’ll likely be due to Terrell bouncing back.
Which of these Falcons do you expect to shine this weekend? Are there other names you’d add to this list?