*Week 10--Seahawks-Falcons Game Preview ...*


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Week 10: Seahawks at Falcons Game Preview …
Angry Birds – Star Wars II

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Brian Billick and Thom Brennaman on the call: ”Leading by 20, Atlanta has the lead get away from them. Seattle goes up by 1 with less than a minute and now Matt Bryant will have a chance to send Atlanta to the NFC Championship Game. And Thom, if Matt Bryant makes this field goal, how much will this do for this franchise and Matt Ryan. We’ve talked about the pressure on Matt Ryan. If they’d have just kept going and made this a route, sure it would have been a great win, but how about if they can pull this off now with Matt Ryan making 2 big throws to bring them back and win this game. Keep an eye on Red Bryant #79 – he has 5 blocked field goals in his career. This one will be from 49 yards away. And he has sliced up the middle of this goal team or PAT attempt twice already. He hasn’t gotten home, but he’s sliced through pretty good. Josh Harris the snapper and holder is his punter Matt Bosher and time out was called by Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll is looking around saying, ‘Who called time out?’ Somebody called time out and again, a veteran kicker will tell ya, ‘If you’re going to let me get the kick off, thank you, because you just gave me a mulligan. You just gave me a chance to size it up.” You want to get that thing called so they don’t actually get it snapped and kicked. Right now, Pete’s wondering who called the time out. Well, I don’t know it looks pretty straightforward there unless he was whispering in his ear, I’m not calling time out, forget it. That’s a good point. OK, here we go again. 13 seconds left. 49 yards away for Matt Bryant. From the right hash, good snap, good hold and it is … good.

[:08 seconds later] … It [Russell Wilson’s desperation heave in to the end zone] is intercepted by Julio Jones and the Falcons will play in the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2004. And for Mike Smith, Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez collectively and individually their first post season win. And that win, this win right here, legitimizes the Seattle Seahawks as the #1 Seed and makes them the team to beat.
[That last sentence is not a typo by the way!]

And with those words the magic carpet ride that was the Seahawks 2012 Season came to an abrupt and sudden end. The Seahawks stood just 31 seconds away from the NFC Championship Game and a date with the San Francisco 49ers. Instead Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons ended Seattle’s season in the blink of an eye. As the Falcons celebrated that day, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks immediately and defiantly fixed their gaze upon 2013. Who would have thought that a mere 10 months later that the fortunes of these two teams would be so very different? [How ironic or maybe even prophetic Brian Billick’s call at the end, eh?] While many Seahawks fans are dancing in the street to the tune of 8-1 … Atlanta fans have seen their hopes come crashing down, as injuries have really clipped the Falcons wings this year. This Sunday these Angry Birds face off once again on the same field that ended it all for the Seahawks in January. Will the Hawks rule the roost … or will they get plucked? Let’s take a closer look at just who the Falcons have been in 2013 …

Falcons Passing Offense …
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Before we begin to dissect this particular bird, let’s start by laying out some of the numbers …

Falcons Off. CategoryNFL RankSeahawks Off. CategoryNFL Rank
333 Pass Attempts6th Most239 Pass Attempts2nd Fewest
22.0 Pts Scored/Game18th Most25.8 Pts Scored/Game10th Most
289.2 Pass Yds/Game5th Most200.8 Pass Yds/Game6th Fewest
67.9% Pass Comp%3rd Best63.2% Pass Comp%12th Best
42.0% 3rd Down Conv Rate8th37.2% 3rd Down Conv Rate20th
7.3 Yds/Pass Avg.14th Highest8.3 Yds/Pass Avg.4th Highest
10.8 Yds/Reception Avg.5th Lowest13.1 Yds/Reception Avg.3rd Highest
28 Passes of 20 Yards+14th Most30 Passes of 20 Yards+9th Most
7 Passes of 40 Yards+6th Most4 Passes of 40 Yards+7th Fewest
15 Passing TD’s10th Most16 Passing TD’stied 6th Most
Score TD’s 52.94% in Red Zone (AT HOME)17thScore TD’s 54.55% in Red Zone (ON ROAD)17th in NFL
10 Interceptions ThrownTied 7th Most6 Interceptions ThrownTied 5th Fewest
14 Sacks Allowed5th Fewest27 Sacks8th Most
45 QB Hits Allowed16th Most56 QB Hits Allowed6th Most
91.7 Passer Rating for Matt Ryan13th Best101.0 QB Passer Rating for Russell Wilson5th Best
[tdo=4]Falcons vs. Seahawks PASS Offense Comparison …[/tdo]

As always, stopping the Falcons begins with effectively defending their passing attack. Last season, the offense of the Atlanta Falcons broke down thusly …

2012 Atlanta Falcons Offense …
615 Passing Plays … (61.93% of Offense)
378 Rushing Plays … (38.06% of Offense)
993 Total Offensive Plays

Despite the injuries they’ve had to some of their key players this year, that hasn’t changed …

2013 Atlanta Falcons Offense …
333 Passing Plays … (69.09% of Offense)
149 Rushing Plays … (30.91% of Offense)
482 Total Offensive Plays

Stopping the Falcons starts with containing QB Matt Ryan. As you all know and remember well, Matt Ryan (6’4” 217 Pounds) is one of the true elite passers in this game and a guy that opposing defenses need to really respect. Ryan is an incredibly accurate passer with a strong arm … a good decision maker … and can put up crooked numbers in a hurry. He most certainly did against the Seahawks in the playoffs last year, as the Legion of Boom got blasted for 20 points before halftime.

Stats-wise, Ryan and the Falcon Passing Attack has been nearly as lethal in 2013 as they were last season …

Matt Ryan 2012 vs. 2013 …

TD Passes Thrown …
32 TD’s in 2012
15 TD’s in 2013 through 8 weeks (on pace for 30)

14 INT’s thrown in 2012
10 INT’s in 2013 through 8 weeks (on pace for 20)

QB Rating of 99.1 in 2012
QB Rating of 91.7 in 2013

Total QBR of 74.5 in 2012
Total QBR of 68.8 in 2013

If that’s the case, why are they 2-6 and have lost the last 2 games fairly convincingly?

[Week 8] 10/27/13 … Loss at Arizona Cardinals 13-27
[Week 9] 11/3/2013 … Loss at Carolina Panthers 10-34

Well, for starters the Falcons have been without several of their key raptors for awhile now. When they’re upright and flying straight, Roddy White (6’0” 211 Pounds), Julio Jones (6’3” 220 pounds), and Tony Gonzalez (6’5” 247 Pounds) comprise perhaps the most dangerous corps of receivers in the NFL. Last year, those 3 guys accounted for 25 of the Falcons 44 touchdowns … 62.5% of all the Falcons receptions … and 3,479 (73.7%) of their 4,719 Passing Yards. This season’s been a completely different story though.

Neither Julio Jones nor Roddy White has played in a game since their Week 5 loss to the Jets (28-30). Julio Jones suffered a foot injury in that Jets game and the Falcons placed him on IR after season ending surgery on October 18th. Roddy White suffered a high ankle sprain in the Pre-season game against the Ravens back on August 15th and has been battling with ankle and hamstring issues all season long. White has had his practice snaps increased each day this week, but he remained a limited participant all week and on Friday was still listed as Questionable for this game on Sunday.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said of White

"Hopefully, there is no setback between now and 1 o'clock on Sunday and we can get Roddy back out on the field," Smith said.
So if he’s feeling good still come Sunday, I’d look for White to play. The question is, just how effective is he going to truly be?

Over their past 3 games, the big bird of the offense hasn’t been Tony Gonzalez – it’s been 29 year old WR Harry Douglas …

[Week 7] against Tampa Bay … 7 Receptions … 149 yards (21.3 yds/catch avg) … 1 TD
[Week 8] against Arizona … 12 Receptions … 121 yards (10.1 yds/catch avg.) … 0 TD
[Week 9] against Carolina … 3 Receptions … 82 yards (27.3 yds/catch avg.)… 0 TD

Harry Douglas (6’0” 183 Pounds) is a fairly effective slot receiver who has decent speed (4.51 in the 40), quickness, and good hands. Over the past 3 games, he is averaging 16.0 yards/catch and 10 of his 38 catches that have gone for 20 yards or more (most 20+ yard catches on the team), so Douglas is definitely someone that the Legion of Boom will have to watch for downfield.

WR’s Drew Davis (6’1” 205 Pounds) [the 2nd year Pro out of Oregon] and Darius Johnson (5’10” 175 Pounds) [rookie out of Southern Methodist] have both had big games lately as well.

In addition, the Falcons also have made a point of targeting their backs coming out of the backfield as well. This season, Falcon running backs have had 66 catches or 29.2% of all their completions. Last year, Matt Ryan threw to his backs 25.83% of the time, so Seattle’s linebacking corps needs to pay particular attention to the backs in the passing game this Sunday. Jacquizz Rodgers (5’6” 196 Pounds), the former Oregon State Beaver, is a fast little scat back that the Falcons love to employ in the passing attack, as he has caught 4 or more balls in 5 of the 8 games he has played in this season. Rodgers averaged 4.9 Yards/Carry … had 3,877 yards … and scored 51 touchdowns for the Beavers during his career at Oregon State, so he is certainly someone to keep an eye on.

The Seahawks ability to get and apply pressure on Matt Ryan will certainly be key because here are his numbers at Home this season ...

Matt Ryan (At Home in 2013)
123 Comp … 168 Att (73.2% Comp Rate) for 1,387 Yards … 9 TD … 1 INT … for a QB Rating of 112.9

That’s a tall order though, as the Falcons (unlike the Seahawks) have allowed the 5th fewest sacks in the league (14). The weak link in the chain though could be T Lamar Holmes (6’6” 333 Pounds). With LT Sam Baker (6’5” 301 Pounds) on the bench due to an injury, the Falcons had been going with Holmes as his replacement.
It didn’t go so hot, as ProFootballFocus had his Pass Blocking Efficiency at 90.8 (ranked 54 out of 59) and his overall Pass Blocking Grade at -13.0 (72nd out of 76).

Baker returned last week, so the Falcons inserted him in there at Right Tackle instead and he did well overall. This week though, the Falcons face a tall task themselves in figuring out how exactly to contain Michael Bennett (6’4” 274 Pounds), Cliff Avril (6’3” 260 Pounds), and Chris Clemons (6’3” 254 Pounds). ProFootballFocus has all of those guys ranked in the top 12 in terms of 4-3 Rush Ends and the Seahawks Ends 113 total QB pressures is far and away #1 in the NFL. Sam Baker, by the way, was a limited participant in practice all week with a knee issue and is listed as Questionable for the game on Sunday. It should be interesting for sure.

Falcons Rushing Offense …
Seahawks Falcons Foot t618

Before we continue with this part of the conversation, let’s hop in and take a look at the how the running game of the Falcons has compared with that of the Seahawks …

Falcons 2013 Rushing Offense …

Rushing Attempts149 (Fewest in NFL)288 (2nd Most in NFL)
Rushing Yards515 (Fewest in NFL)1,323 (2nd Most in NFL)
Rushing Yards/Game64.4 (Last in League)147.0 (4th Most in League)
Avg. Yards/Rush3.5 (Tied 5th Fewest)4.6 (Tied 7th Most)
Rushes of 20+ Yds1 (Tied 2nd Fewest)8 (Tied 5th Most)
Rushing 1st Downs24 (Fewest in NFL)71 (Most in NFL)
3rd Down Conv%42.0% (8th Best)37.2% (20th)
Rushing TD’s3 (Tied 5th Fewest)8 (Tied for 7th Most)
Rushing Fumbles0 (Best in NFL)5 (Tied 6th Most)
[tdo=3]Falcons vs. Seahawks RUSH Offense Comparison (w/NFL Rankings)[/tdo]

As you can see, there couldn’t be a more black and white … yin and yang … Felix Unger and Oscar Madison difference between these 2 ball clubs in terms of their running games. We talked above about the fact that Atlanta has run the ball only 30.91% of the time. They have the lowest rushing attempts of any team in football. They have by far the lowest rushing yards per game. According to basically every number listed above, the Atlanta Falcons are very worst rushing offense in the entire NFL. By all rights, Seahawk players should be dancing in the streets over the prospect of facing this team – and that’s precisely what scares me.

The Seahawks Defense has allowed 200 yards rushing in each of the last 2 games. And we’re not talking Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, or Alfred Morris here. We’re talking about …

Zac Stacy … 26 Carries … 134 Yards (5.2 yds/rush) … 0 TD
Mike James … 28 Carries … 158 Yards (5.6 yds/rush) … 0 TD

Those aren’t exactly Pro Bowl names there.

This week, the Seahawks face an old nemesis that they are quite familiar with -- RB Steven Jackson (6’2” 240 Pounds). History would seem to be on the side of the Hawks though.

Trivia Question for You: When was the last time Steven Jackson rushed for 100 yards against the Seahawks?

Answer: NEVER. That’s right. Unbelievably, Steven Jackson has never had a 100 yard rushing game against the Seahawks in his 10 year career …

Steven Jackson’s Career Rushing Stats vs. the Seahawks …
10/10/2004 (at Sea) … 5 attempts … 64 yards (12.8 yards/carry) … 0 TD
11/14/2004 (Home) … 10 carries … 47 yards (4.7 yards/carry) … 1 TD
10/9/2005 (Home) … 17 carries … 77 yards (4.53 yards/carry) … 1 TD
11/13/2005 (at Sea) … 17 carries … 70 yards (4.12 yards/carry) … 0 TD
10/15/2006 (Home) … 20 carries … 56 yards (2.8 yards/carry) … 1 TD
11/12/2006 (at Sea) … 18 carries … 93 yards (5.17 yards/carry) … 1 TD
11/25/2007 (Home) … 23 carries … 90 yards (3.91 yards/carry) … 1 TD
9/21/2008 (at Sea) … 23 carries … 66 yards (2.87 yards/carry) … 0 TD
12/14/2008 (Home) … 24 carries … 91 yards (3.79 yards/carry) … 1 TD
9/13/2009 (at Sea) … 16 carries … 67 yards (4.19 yards/carry) … 0 TD
11/29/2009 (Home) … 23 carries … 89 yards (3.87 yards/carry) … 1 TD
10/3/2010 (Home) … 22 carries … 70 yards (3.18 yards/carry) … 0 TD
1/2/2011 (at Sea) … 11 carries … 45 yards (4.09 yards/carry) … 0 TD
11/20/2011 (Home) … 15 carries … 42 yards (2.80 yards/carry) … 0 TD
12/12/2011 (at Sea) … 20 carries … 63 yards (3.15 yards/carry) … 1 TD
9/30/2012 (Home) … 18 carries … 55 yards (3.06 yards/carry) … 0 TD
12/30/2012 (at Sea) … 11 carries … 52 yards (4.73 yards/carry) … 0 TD

Now Steven Jackson has reached the magic age of 30 – the age that many NFL backs begin to decline. This season, Jackson has rushed 38 times for 140 yards (3.7 yards/carry avg) and 0 TD’s.

Over his 10 year career, Steven Jackson has averaged only 3.88 yards/carry and had 8 TD’s vs. the Seattle Seahawks.

Since 2010 and the start of the Pete Carroll era though, that number has plummeted to a mere 3.37 yards/carry and Jackson has had but 1 lone touchdown.

The leading rusher for the Falcons so far this year though has been Jacquizz Rodgers [5’6” 196 Pounds]. Here are his stats on the year so far …

Jacquizz Rodgers (2013 Stats) …
9/8 (at Saints) … 2 Carries … -1 Yard … -.5 Yds/Rush … 0 TD
9/15 (vs. Rams) … 11 Carries … 17 Yards … 1.5 Yds/Rush … 0 TD
9/22 (at Dolphins) … 18 Carries … 86 Yards … 4.8 Yds/Rush … 0 TD
9/29 (vs. Patriots) … 7 Carries … 32 Yards … 4.6 Yds/Rush … 0 TD
10/7 (vs. Jets) … 14 Carries … 43 Yards … 3.1 Yds/Rush … 2 TD
10/20 (vs. Buccaneers) … 8 Carries … 16 Yards … 2.0 Yds/Rush … 0 TD
10/27 (at Cardinals) … 2 Carries … 8 Yards … 4.0 Yds/Rush … 0 TD
11/3 (at Panthers) … 5 Carries … 19 Yards … 3.8 Yds/Rush … 0 TD
Season Totals …. 67 Carries … 220 Yards … 3.3 Yds/Rush … 2 TD

As you can see, outside of the Dolphins game, Rodgers really hasn’t done all that much on the ground. It would seem then that for a team like the Seahawks that has given up territory faster than the great Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 (405 yards the past 2 games) that the Atlanta Falcons are the perfect cure. Many had that same mentality too … before January 13, 2013 …

Coming in to that game, the Falcons had averaged only 87.3 Yards/Game during the regular season (4th Fewest) … and only 3.7 Yards/Rush (5th worst average).

Instead, the Falcons rushed for 167 yards on 26 carries (6.4 yards/carry) against the Hawks.

Michael Turner … 14 carries … 98 yards (7.0 yards/carry) … long of 33
Jacquizz Rodgers … 10 carries … 64 yards (6.4 yards/carry) … long of 45

The 64 Yards the Seahawks allowed to Jacquizz Rodgers was the most he’d gained in a game all last year. However, if you take a look at the numbers, the Hawks actually did phenomenally against him, as 45 of Rodgers 64 yards came on 1 play in the 2nd Quarter. If you take away that one run, the Seahawks allowed a grand total of 19 yards on 9 carries (a mere 2.11 Yards/Carry) to Rodgers.

The Seahawks come in to this game averaging 32 rushing attempts per game while the Falcons are averaging only 16.5 attempts per game on the season. Though precedent says that the Falcons will pass most of the time … logic says that Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter will look to test the Hawks Rush Defense in this game. Last week, against Carolina (the best run defense in the league right now) Matt Ryan ended up passing the ball 27 times … but the Falcons also rushed 20 times. Being without both Julio Jones and Roddy White tends to make you want to do that. The Falcons rushed for 146 yards on 30 carries (4.9 yards/carry) against the Dolphins back in Week 3, so they will run the ball if they’re having success doing so. Seattle’s Front 7 better do a much better job collapsing those running lanes than they’ve done the past couple of days or it’s going to be a very long day. With Big Red Bryant (6’4” 323 Pounds) OUT for this game after suffering a concussion last week, things could certainly get interesting on that front if the Falcons do decide they want to establish the run.

Falcons Rushing Defense …


Points Allowed/Game27.2 (Tied 7th Most)16.6 (3rd Fewest)
Rushing Attempts Against206 (24th in NFL)248 (5th Most in NFL)
Rushing Yards Allwd930 (18th in NFL)1,046 (6th Most in NFL)
Rushing Yards/Game Allwd116.2(13th Most)116.2 (13th Most)
Avg. Yards/Rush Allwd4.5 (7th Most)4.2 (14th in NFL)
Rushes of 20+ Yds Allwd6 (11th Most)3 (Tied 4th Least)
Rushing 1st Downs Allwd37 (5th Fewest)58 (6th Most)
Rushing TD’s Allwd5 (Tied 10th Fewest)4 (Tied for 6th Fewest)
Tackles for Loss2423
Rushing Fumbles Caused2 (Tied 4th Fewest)6 (Tied 4th Most)
Forced Fumbles6 (Tied 3rd Least)13 (3rd Most)
[tdo=3]Falcons vs. Seahawks RUSH Defense Comparison (w/NFL Rankings)[/tdo]

So, exactly what kind of a run defense will the Hawks be facing this weekend? The short answer to that question is it’s an OK one. The Falcons defense as a whole has some very talented players, but they’re not without their holes either.

Before we get further in to this match-up, let’s take a look at ProFootball Focus’s brief breakdown …
Marshawn Lynch is having another huge season. His 726 yards rushing is second in the league and his 48 broken tackles lead the league. These missed tackles contribute to his 67.5 Elusive rating which trails only Adrian Peterson. The Falcons will also have a second runner to worry about in Russell Wilson. His 375 yards trails only Terrelle Pryor among all quarterbacks. Wilson also has the second-highest PFF run rating for QBs behind Pryor. The Seahawks’ offense begins with Lynch’s tough runs and ends with Wilson’s wild scrambles.
For Atlanta to win this game they must at least slow down this rushing attack. Their cumulative team run defense grade of +9.2 isn’t terrible, but it still ranks 17th in the league. They could use huge games from Corey Peters and Osi Umenyiora. Peters ranks in the Top 10 among defensive tackles with a run grade of +5.7, and despite his pass rushing being down overall, Osi has a solid +3.9 run grade. The Falcons weak spot when stopping the run, and overall has been their linebackers. They really miss Sean Weatherspoon in this department. Paul Worrilow and Akeem Dent have struggled as they have a combined run grade of -4.0. Jopolo Bartu has been a nice surprise and has graded positively in the run game but, overall none of these three linebackers has an overall grade better than -3.9. If the Falcons want to have a chance this group needs to play their best game of the season on Sunday.
If you look at this Falcons defense, one guy that they are really missing this year is WILL LB Sean Weatherspoon (6’2” 244 Pounds) Weatherspoon is one of the better all-around linebackers you’ll find in the game. He is good rushing the passer when needed, can defend against the run, is a sure tackler (his 95 tackles were 2nd on the team last year), and is also very solid when the Falcons drop him back in to zone coverage. Last year, there were some who honestly felt that he deserved Pro Bowl consideration. Weatherspoon was placed on IR (with designation to return) with a severely sprained ankle on September 17th (so he is not eligible to play again until Week 11). Joplo Bartu (6’2” 230 Pounds), an undrafted free agent rookie out of Texas State, has gotten the bulk of the work on the weak side in Weatherspoon’s absence. Though Joplu and done OK against the run, this team is clearly missing one of its best players.

LDT Jonathan Babineaux (6’2” 300 Pounds) is both an excellent run defender and pass rusher. Back in 2009, he led all NFL interior lineman with 6 sacks. Last year, Babineaux was the Falcons top run stuffer, as his 8 Tackles for Loss led the team.

Outside of Babineaux though, there are question marks surrounding the most of the rest of that Falcons Front 7. DT Corey Peters (6’3” 305 Pounds) [3.0 Sacks, 1 PD) is one of the better DT run defenders you’ll find … but he left the field during the Panther game with a knee injury. He hasn’t practiced this week at all and is considered Questionable for Sunday. DT Peria Jerry (6’2” 295 Pounds) [2.5 Sacks], his backup, was a limited participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday himself with a toe injury. Though he was a full participant in practice on Friday and it looks like he should be good to go for Sunday, I’d say few Falcons fans are excited by that prospect. Against Carolina, Jerry finished with 0 pressures in 22 rushes. He was sealed off and pushed back many times in that game and frankly many Falcons fans are fairly tired at this point of the former 1st Round Pick’s song and dance. SAM LB Stephen Nicholas (6’3” 236 Pounds) is another defender whom the Falcons are really missing this year. Nicholas ended up leading the team in tackles last season (97 tackles) and again, many felt that he deserved Pro Bowl consideration. Instead, he is Questionable for this game and has been limited in practice all week long with a quadriceps injury.

Last week, Cam Newton and the Panthers amassed 133 yards rushing on 33 carries (4.0 yards/rush) and scored 2 TD’s against this Falcons Front 7.

The week prior to that, the Cardinals racked up 201 yards rushing, as Andre Ellington ran wild for 154 yards on 15 carries (10.4 yards/rush) and scored a TD.

Even Tampa Bay was able to tally 111 yards on the ground and average 4.0 yards/carry against these guys.

Let’s hope all that is a harbinger of things to come for Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks running attack this weekend.

Falcons Passing Defense …

Without further ado, here’s what the numbers say on how the Falcons Pass Defense compares with that of the Hawks …

Falcons 2013 Passing Defense …

Points Allowed/Game27.2 (Tied 7th Most)16.6 (3rd Fewest)
Passing Attempts Against275 (12th Fewest)296 (15th)
Passing Yards Allwd1,989 (18th)1,618 (2nd Fewest)
Avg. Yds/Pass Allwd7.8 (Tied 6th Most)6.2 (2nd Fewest)
Avg. Yds/Reception Allwd11.9 (Tied 17th)10.5 (4th Best)
Pass Comp% Allwd65.5% (9th Highest)58.8% (Tied 8th Lowest)
Opp 3rd Down Conv%45.8% (3rd Worst)38.5% (17th Best)
1st Downs Allowed161 (12th Fewest)177 (Tied 9th Most)
Passing TD’s Allwd17 (Tied for 3rd Most)9 (tied for 4th Fewest)
QB Rating Allwd100.5 (3rd Worst)68.6 (2nd Best)
Sacks18 (24th in NFL)29 (tied for 3rd Most)
Interceptions6 (tied for 22nd)13 (Tied for Most)
Passes Defensed37 (25th)55 (Tied 7th Most)
Give Away/Take Away Margin-7 (Tied 28th)+6 (Tied 7th Best)
[tdo=3]Falcons vs. Seahawks PASS Defense Comparison (w/NFL Rankings)[/tdo]

As you can see by the numbers, the Falcons haven’t been particularly all that good in stopping their opponents in the passing game. Here are a few numbers that should jump out at you …

The Falcons are …

7th Most in Points Allowed/Game (27.2)
3rd Worst in QB Rating Allowed (100.5)
3rd Worst in Opponent 3rd Down Conversion% Allowed (45.8% of all 3rd Downs)
7th Worst in Passes Defensed (37)
6th Worst in Average Yards/Pass Allowed [7.8]
4th Worst in Give Away/Take Away Margin (-7)

Against a team that is in the bottom 1/3 in Sacks, even with a banged up offensive line, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks (in theory) should be able to move the ball. After all, he did last year. Here are Russell Wilson’s passing stats from that playoff loss to the Falcons last season …

Russell Wilson against Atlanta (1/13/13)
24 Comp … 36 Att (66.66 Comp%) … 385 yards … 2 TD … 1 INT … for a QB Rating of 109.1 … and a Total QBR of 90.8.

What exactly does that Falcons defensive backfield look like? Well, starting on the edges and moving inward, RCB Asante Samuel (5’10” 185 Pounds) (20 Tackles ... 3 Passed Defensed ... 1 INT) has been one of the best defenders in the league for a long time. Samuel is and has been one of the best ball hawks in the NFL – a guy who is very good at reading what opposing quarterbacks are trying to do and jumping routes. But Samuel also has a reputation for at times buying in to receivers juke moves and of getting burned by them.

On the other side, Seattle fans will see a fairly familiar face over there – 1st Round Draft Choice and former University of Washington Husky LCB Desmond Trufant (5’10” 183 Pounds) (37 Tackles … 8 Passes Defensed … 1 INT). Trufant absolutely shot up draft boards after he ran an unofficial 40 yard dash time of 4.31 seconds. Though he has looked good at times, Trufant is after all a rookie and is also prone to rookie mistakes.

As was the case last season, CB Robert McClain (5’9” 195 Pounds) (33 Tackles … 1 Sacks … 1 TFL … 2 Passes Defensed … 0 INT) draws the assignment of covering slot receivers on nickel packages most times. He’s a very solid nickel corner who has a lot of experience in nickel coverage and has been known to make his share of plays. Continuing our back-peddle, SS William Moore (6’0” 221 Pounds) (43 Tackles [leads the team] … 1.0 Sack … 1 TFL … 4 Passes Defensed … 1 INT) is a hard hitting safety and the team’s top tackler. FS Thomas DeCoud (6’2” 192 Pounds) (39 Tackles … 1 TFL … 1 Pass Defensed … 0 INT) is a good free safety who several out there felt deserved Pro Bowl consideration last year. DeCoud and Moore together form one of the better ball-hawking tandems in the league, so Russell Wilson will have to be cognizant of where he throws the ball.

Last season, this Falcons team finished 5th in the league in Interceptions (20), so despite the fact that they haven’t put up great numbers this season, they are a veteran group that knows how to make quarterbacks miserable. That said, this is also a group that has allowed a lot of yardage and a surprisingly large number of big completions against them over the past couple of seasons.

The Falcons best pass rusher is a man whom many Seahawks fans should be quite familiar with – DE Osi Umenyiora (6’3” 255 Pounds). Umenyiora is a guy who was on the wish list of many Seahawk fans this offseason. He currently leads the Falcons in sacks (4.5) and has 18 QB Hurries, though he’s not the player he once was. However, Russell Wilson could find himself running for his life from #50, as ProFootball Focus has Paul McQuistan (6’6” 315 Pounds) as their 2nd worst Offensive Tackle (a grade of -16.0 as an OT).

Things could get even more interesting in this game with the news today that Center Max Unger (6’5” 305 Pounds) has been officially ruled OUT of Sunday’s contest after suffering a concussion in the Seahawks win against the Buccaneers last weekend. That means Lemuel Jeanpierre (6’3” 301 Pounds) once again assumes Unger’s duties at Center. With RT Breno Giacomini (6’7” 318 Pounds) still sidelined for at least another week, we will undoubtedly see more of rookie tackles Michael Bowie (6’4” 332 Pounds) and Alvin Bailey (6’3” 320 Pounds) in this game. That’s something to really keep an eye on, as Bailey saw some time Left Tackle against the Bucs and looked far better than McQuistan in there. J.R. Sweezy (6’5” 298 Pounds) continues to look like a work in progress at guard, so Russell Wilson is going to have to continue to buy time with his feet and to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid pressure.

Russell Wilson has been the most pressured QB in the NFL by far this year (over 46.6 % of all his drop-backs), so getting the ball out quickly will be essential for him this Sunday. Wilson appeared to do a lot better in that department this past game. Here is a breakdown of Wilson’s release times (from snap to release) of the Seahawks 4 drives of the 3rd and 4th Quarters of the Buccaneer game …

Drive Beginning 9:48 of 3rd Quarter

1st and 10 at SEA 14 (2 yards to Tate) – Ball out in 1:25 sec
2nd and 8 at SEA 16 (17 yards to Miller) – Ball out in 4.82 sec (rollout, buying time)

2nd and 6 at 50 (2 yards to Lynch) – Ball out in 2.53 sec
3rd and 4 at TB 48 (19 yards to Tate) – Ball out in 2.34 sec
1st and 10 at TB 29 (19 yards to Baldwin) – Ball out in 4.31 sec (rollout, buying time)

Drive Beginning 0:58 of 3rd Quarter

2nd and 8 at TB 23 (5 yards to Lockette) – Ball out in 2:29 sec
3rd and 3 at TB 18 (pass incomplete to Baldwin) – Ball out in 6:69 (rollout, buying time)

Drive Beginning at 11:37 of 4th Quarter

1st and 10 at SEA 25 (28 yards to Baldwin) – Ball out in 2.94 sec
2nd and 12 at TB 49 (9 yards to Lynch) – Ball out in 2.12 sec
3rd and 3 at TB 40 (6 yards to Baldwin) – Ball out in 1.89 sec
2nd and 6 at TB 30 (pass incomplete to Lynch) – Ball out in 3.0 sec
3rd and 6 at TB 30 (27 yards to Kearse) – Ball out in 1.79 sec

Drive Beginning at 6:13 of 4th Quarter

1st and 10 at TB 48 (22 yards to Miller) – Ball out in 3.1 sec
2nd at 10 at TB 26 (8 yards to Tate) – Ball out in 2.37 sec
3rd and 5 at TB 10 (10 yd TD to Baldwin) – Ball out in 1.65 sec

Russell Wilson Avg Time from Snap to Release … 2.87 seconds

If Wilson can continue to do that this Sunday, I feel pretty good about the Seahawks chances in this game.

WDFOS [What Does Football Outsiders Say?]

Football Outsiders Week 9 DVOA Rankings …

Seahawks … (2nd Overall)
… Offensive DVOA (6.4%) [13th]
… Defensive DVOA (-17.5%) [2nd]

Falcons … (18th Overall)
… Offensive DVOA (6.9%) [11th]
… Defensive DVOA (10.9%) [29th]

Bold Prediction …

Given the overall state of both teams (there are significant injuries on both sides), this one has the potential to be another ugly one on Sunday. If he’s able to avoid the inevitable blitzes he’s going to face, Russell Wilson could conceivably have a day similar to the one he had last time. Keep an eye on the Peters and Baker situations as well because if these guys don’t play, that could have major ramifications for the Hawks as well. Despite the fact that Atlanta comes in to this game banged up, they can score and score in a hurry. If the Seahawks can keep the Falcons run game in check and force them in to being 1 dimensional, then I really like Seattle’s chances in this contest a whole lot more. As it is though, I’m going to predict this one becomes a bit of a shootout just like last time.

Let’s call it …

Seahawks 27
Falcons 24


Active member
May 25, 2011
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Wow amazing break down, great read.

Thanks for the unbelievable amount of work.


New member
Jan 17, 2011
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Middle of Nowhere, Washington
Any thoughts guys on any specific parts related to this matchup talked about above? Any insights/thoughts on any of the match-ups or anything in particular related to this game that's burning on your minds?


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Jan 17, 2011
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Middle of Nowhere, Washington
I've been thinking a lot today about the injury situation for this game as it relates to the Falcons. Most people out there I know are focused on Roddy White's status (and with good reason.) For those who missed it this week, Peter King talked about Roddy White's situation on Mitch's Show and what he shared was pretty enlightening. It was nice to hear a national reporter basically confirm what I'd already pieced together through research. So, White suffered a high ankle sprain in the Falcons 2nd Preseason game against the Ravens. It sounds like he basically tried to play through it and that ankle sprain slowly got worse and eventually (because he was compensating for it) that turned in to a hamstring injury that he suffered in Week 5 against the Jets. He was a limited participant in practice all week and though he might play ... in all reality he's probably only going to be 70-80% of Roddy White.

Anyway, 2 other injury situations in this game (I believe) demand far more focus than they'd gotten. LT Sam Baker was a limited participant in practice all week with a knee issue and may not play in this game. Now, he played last week against the Panthers after missing the previous 3 weeks ... but is again listed as Questionable for this game. To me, this smacks of the same kind of situation as White -- basically not taking the requisite time to really heal is costing the Falcons. I wrote about the fact that in Baker's absence, the Falcons had shifted Lamar Holmes over to LT. Holmes did absolutely terrible at LT (think Paul McQuistan level of terrible there), so there is a part of me that feels like his ineptitude really made the Falcons antsy when it came to Baker, in essence rushing him back too early because Holmes was performing so badly at LT (they shifted Holmes to RT against the Panthers). It looks to me like that decision cost them, as we may be looking at Holmes again this week at LT. Ring the dinner bell for Avril, Clemons, and Bennett. For those of us (me included) who might be getting a little antsy to see Harvin back on the field before he's 100% ... let that be a cautionary tale.

The other situation that really bears watching is DT Corey Peters. Peters is the best run stuffer on the Falcons and one of the best run stuffing DT's in the league. He injured his knee in the Carolina game and had to be helped off the field. He didn't practice either Wednesday or Thursday, but was a limited participant in practice on Friday. On Thursday, he was walking around with a noticeable limp, so I'd say there is a real possibility he doesn't play either. Like Roddy White, he again have to ask the question, "Even if he does play, just how effective is he going to be?" For a Seahawks team that will be looking to get Marshawn Lynch going, THAT could be a real shot in the arm.