Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Prediction: SEA 24, ATL 23 (Line: ATL by 2.5)

Here's the only game of the weekend that isn't a replay of one from the regular season. The Seahawks have that dangerous "wild card" persona this year that could burn out this week or last until the Super Bowl and it would not surprise either way. Seattle is only 4-5 on the road this year despite being 8-0 at home. The Falcons are 7-1 at home though and have been a top team all year.

This game turns on how well the Seahawks can defend the Falcons. Two of the top cover corners in the league are going against two of the best wideouts in the league. This will easily be the best defense that the Falcons have faced all season and in reality, the Falcons enjoyed one of the lightest schedules of any team. That makes this game harder to call than may seem on the surface and a case of two teams that match up differently than what the Falcons are used to going against.

Seattle Seahawks
Homefield: Qwest Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @ARI 16-20 10 NYJ 28-7
2 DAL 27-7 11 BYE -----
3 GB 14-12 12 @MIA 21-24
4 @STL 13-19 13 @CHI 23-17
5 @CAR 16-12 14 ARI 58-0
6 NE 24-23 15 @BUF 50-17
7 @SF 6-13 16 SF 42-13
8 @DET 24-28 17 STL 20-13
9 MIN 30-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SEATTLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Russell Wilson 70,1 - 190,1
RB Marshawn Lynch 110,1 2-10 -
TE Zach Miller - 4-50,1 -
WR Sidney Rice - 4-50 -
WR Doug Baldwin - 2-20 -
WR Golden Tate - 3-40 -
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Seahawks playoff run has been speared headed by the rookie Russell Wilson though despite his many fervent Seattle fans, he's not been a savior by any means. But what he has been is an excellent game manager who scored in all but two games and who will add yardage as a runner when the need arises. Wilson has only passed for one touchdown in four of the last five games and ten of his games produced under 200 passing yards. But he makes very few mistakes. He's only thrown two interceptions over the last nine games and he has that knack for being whatever they need him to be.

The Falcons have only allowed six passing scores to visitors this year in total but what has some impact here is that they faced a rushing quarterback only twice - both Cam Newton and in both he scored and ran for at least 86 yards. The Seahawks are not going to win this game because they out-passed the Falcons. They might win it with Wilson's rushing making a difference.

Marshawn Lynch was held out of practice on Wednesday because of a previously unreported foot problem but there was no concern expressed about his availability this week. Lynch has enjoyed a banner year as the center piece of the offense and scored 13 times this year. He's currently on a five game streak with 100+ yards and comes off a season best 132 yards and a score in Washington. There is no secret here - Lynch is going to be the main weapon that the Falcons have to stop and that goes against the biggest weakness of the defense.

The Falcons already allowed three runners to top 100 yards in Atlanta along with seven touchdowns among all visiting running backs. The Falcons also got away with more defensively since their soft schedule allowed them to lead in most games and take away the run from opponents.

Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have been mostly nonfactors since week 13 with neither wideout scoring and both topping 65 yards in a game once in that time. Doug Baldwin was even worse in catches and yardage though he scored twice in the home game against the 49ers.

The Falcons have allowed only two touchdowns to visiting wideouts over the last five home games and minimal yardage to all but the better passing teams of the Cowboys and Saints. This game hinges on Lynch and Wilson running and the performance of their defense.

Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 12 6 23 21 15 10
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 11 24 8 21 12 3


Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO 27-31
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI 23-19
3 @SD 27-3 12 @TB 24-23
4 CAR 30-28 13 NO 23-13
5 @WAS 24-17 14 @CAR 20-30
6 OAK 23-20 15 NYG 34-0
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET 31-18
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB 17-22
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATLANTA Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan - - 250,2
RB Michael Turner 40 - -
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 5-40 -
TE Tony Gonzalez - 4-50,1 -
WR Julio Jones   3-60  
WR Roddy White - 5-70 -
WR Harry Douglas - 3-20,1 -
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Falcons are trying to avoid the same fate as the last two seasons - one playoff game and it is over. They lost in New York last season and then lost to the visiting Packers in 2010. They have enjoyed a wonderful schedule going against the NFC South, AFC West and NFC east. To no surprise they rolled up the #1 record in the NFC and the defense has been there along the way as well. Half of their games resulted in opponents being held under 20 points.

Matt Ryan has enjoyed a career year with 32 touchdowns and 4719 yards. He scored in all but two games and topped 300 yards in those. This has been a top passing unit all year though they have not faced many great defenses. Back in week two, the Broncos held him to 219 yards and two scores. Otherwise they have enjoyed a really nice slate of games.

That goes against the Seahawks defense that has only allowed 16 passing touchdowns this year and just now have back their tandem of shutdown corners. This will be a big test for Ryan who cannot merely rely on either Roddy White or Julio Jones to carry the load. They'll be against the #1 unit against wide receivers and one of the more fascinating subplots will be how much the Falcons move those two around to gain better matchups and how much the Seahawks move Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman around to counteract that.

Harry Douglas may come into play this week with the other two likely to be harder to connect with for Ryan. Tony Gonzalez could also be a valuable outlet here though the Seahawks only allowed four scores to the position all year and Gonzalez has been struggling to exceed 50 yards against anyone this year.

Michael Turner has been a scoring machine this year with 11 touchdowns but he never has more than one in any game and he's topped 50 rushing yards in only one of the last seven games. The only reason the Falcons rank average is because of those short touchdown runs.

Ryan catches a break with the Seahawks just losing their best rusher of Chris Clemons but when both Sherman and Browner are shadowing White and Jones, this game is going to have to won differently by the Falcons. They are great at home to be sure but the Seahawks defense matches up very well.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 17 6 5 3 22
Preventing Fantasy Points SEA 2 6 1 8 2 5


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