Atlanta's schedule ranked 32nd (the easiest) in the NFL regarding the defensive strength of their opponents. They averaged 26 points per game. Seattle's schedule ranked 3rd toughest in the NFL regarding the defensive strength of their opponents. They also averaged 26 points per game. Are we to believe that the Seahawks offense is actually much better than the Falcons offense? With even an average running game the Falcons would be an offensive juggernaut. But with a poor running game they are one dimensional and merely above average. Speaking of average, the Falcons essentially played against the Buffalo Bills defense every week. And they managed 26 points per game. The Seahawks essentially played the Atlanta defense every week and managed 26 points per game. Atlanta is a MUCH better D than Buffalo (right Falcon fan?) The Seahawks put up a 50 burger at Buffalo! Matty Ice, Julio and Roddy get a lot of ESPN highlight time, but they cannot wear a defense down and they are not dominating in terms of putting up points.
The defense is a different story. Atlanta's schedule ranked 10th toughest in the NFL regarding the offensive strength of their opponents. They gave up 19 points per game. That's pretty damn good! Seattle's schedule ranked 15th toughest in the NFL regarding the offensive strength of their opponents. They gave up 15 points per game. The Falcon's D is a lot better than the media coverage portrays. Russell better know that these guys will bait him into a pick or two if he is not razor sharp. He was not razor sharp against Washington, but fortunately their D is not good. The telling match-up here is if the Falcons can stop a true power running game that is mixed in with some option. So far they have not shown a strength against the run. But they do have talent and with a few adjustments they could make things tougher than you might think for the Seahawk's offense.
Calling Ryan and Russell equal and with the exception of White & Jones, I would give the edge to the Seahawks at every other position on the field. And it just so happens that White and Jones go up against Seattle's primary strength of Sherman and Browner. The data says Seattle scores 24 (+/- 2) and Atlanta 17 (+/- 2). But who's to say that Russell doesn't overthrow Baldwin for a an easy TD, or Rice drops an easy 30 yard pass during a key late drive, or Lynch fumbles on the one yard line instead of putting the nail in the coffin? One big play, or non-play can swing this game! But Seattle plays better against quality teams. On an actual NFL surface: Seahawks 27 Atlanta 17.