If the Falcons hope to continue their drive to the Super Bowl, they are going to have to first get past the very focused Seattle Seahawks today.
Another scenario on the line today for the Falcons is keeping their homefield advantage in their hands. Yesterday, the 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers behind a very sharp Colin Kaepernick. That means if the Seahawks win today, not only is it over for Atlanta, but San Francisco plays for the NFC title at home. If Atlanta wins,they are just one game away from heading to New Orleans and get to do it at home. It would also be a resurgance of sorts for the Falcons, who have taken some heat for being a so-called “weak” No. 1 seed.
So, what can we look for today?
Look for Matt Ryan and his fast-paced offense to show up early. If the offensive line can settle in and create a safe pocket for Ryan in their first few possessions, then watch out Seattle, because Atlanta will be almost unstoppable. If the Seahawks pass rush defense has trouble getting to Ryan, then not only will their passing game be on fire, but their ground game as well. If the offense is on, the Falcons know how to take advantage of critical space to continue effective drives. If Atlanta can hold on for the win, it will be the first playoff win for Ryan. To come out on top, Ryan is simply going to have to find ways to move the ball and rely on his elite receivers in Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones.
Defensively, Atlanta is going to have to stop Marshawn Lynch. The 5’11”, 215-pound back had a career year, rushing for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.0 yards a carry. Although the Falcons defense is only ranked 21st in the NFL, between week 6 through 16, they only allowed one running back to rush for more than 100-yards against them. They have not been talked about much, but they are going to play a huge factor in their drive this post season.
If the Falcons hold on today after their first-round bye, look for them to to show up in February. If Atlanta can play smart defensively, avoid turnovers and be effective on third-down conversions, it is their game to lose.
About the Author
Written by Ashley Gulick
Sports Journalism is my passion! I keep up with the latest news on pro/college football, NASCAR and baseball....and just about everthing else. I grew up in Talladega, Ala., but moved to Georgia when I was 15. From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to be involved with sports somehow. Once I got into college and completed my degree in Communications, I knew that I had a passion for sports journalism. I have covered sports for the Kennesaw Sentinel (KSU's student paper), Marietta Daily Journal and Douglas County Sentinel.