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One reason to be confident, one reason to worry about Falcons - Seahawks

The Falcons should be able to get the offense rolling, but you do have to worry about Geno Smith lighting it up again.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Well, last week’s reason to feel confident about the Rams game was a bust. Atlanta proved largely incapable of taking advantage of a weakened Los Angeles offensive line, and that made the sledding tough for them as the Rams ran up a huge lead they subsequently fell just shy of relinquishing. Sometimes things just don’t play out the way you think they will, eh?

Hopefully that’s not the case this week, when the Falcons face a Seahawks team that they should be better than, however narrowly. As always, though, there’s at least one thing to feel good about today, and one thing that would keep me up at night if it wasn’t already gameday.

We’ll hope to have better luck with this week’s reason to be confidence against a lesser team, and we’ll hope the cause for concern winds up being quite minor. Let’s get to it.

Feel confident that Cordarrelle Patterson will eat

After last week, you might be feeling dubious. The Seahawks have some very effective defenders up front, so it’s not an absolute given that Atlanta will be able to run it well and get Cordarrelle Patterson loose. We have evidence that points to that outcome, though.

Only six teams have allowed more rushing yards thus far in 2022 than the Seahawks, per Pro Football Reference. None have allowed more receiving yards to running backs than Seattle. Cordarrelle Patterson is eighth in the NFL in rushing yards and has been very quiet through the air thus far, and he’s coming off a game where he was stymied. I’m no math sorcerer, but I think everything seems to be pointing to a very nice game for CP.

Seattle’s rushing defense more generally has been susceptible, which may also open the door for Tyler Allgeier to do some damage. If the Falcons don’t come out of Sunday with a major effort from Patterson, I’ll be stunned, and that’s usually a recipe for a good day for Atlanta.

Worry the Falcons will struggle with the Seattle passing attack

This is not an idle worry, even if the Seahawks passing game has not exactly lit the world on fire thus far. There are enough pieces here to worry, and that would be true even if Atlanta’s pass defense had been great to this point.

They haven’t been.

As Aaron Freeman wrote on Friday, A.J. Terrell has had a rough start to the year, but the entire pass defense has quietly only put together like 2.5 strong quarters thus far in 2022. Atlanta has allowed the second-highest number of air yards on completions, which is a fancy way of saying Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford were able to complete deep passes seemingly at will against them for long stretches.

Geno Smith has the lowest intended air yards per attempt in the entire NFL right now, but that’s more of a function of the offense he’s playing in than any lack of ability, as he still has a strong arm and can air it out. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have plenty of speed, so if the Falcons have coverage lapses like they have in the first two weeks of the season, chances are Smith will find a way to take advantage. The pass rush effectively stopped getting home late against the Saints and had very little success against the Rams, so we can’t count on them rattling Smith, who has been pressured at one of the highest rates in football and still has the highest percentage of on-target throws per Pro Football Reference.

We’re not going to reference Smith’s 2013 breakout game against the Falcons, where he tossed three touchdowns and put together a very efficient performance, because that doesn’t guarantee anything Sunday. If the 2022 version of Smith is sharp, he’ll probably give this defense trouble, and that’s enough to worry about on its own.