coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 11/04/2013 05:10 PM in NFL

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons: Preview and Pick

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons: Preview and Pick

The Seattle Seahawks barely escaped with a victory at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are one of the worst teams in the league. Now they will have to head out on the road to go to the East coast and play the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have struggled all season long and will be hard pressed to beat the Seahawks, but they are catching this team at the right time. With a good home field advantage for the Falcons, anything can happen.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game opened up with the Seahawks favored by (-6.5) points over the Falcons. Despite the recent struggles in the last two outings, the betting public has given up on the Falcons and over 80 percent of the early wagering is on Seattle. This amount of action has not caused the lien to move and in fact the point spread has gone in the opposite direction. Currently the line can now be found at (-6) at some of the top rated online sportsbooks.

When playing against Seattle, the secret seems to be pressuring the quarterback. Russell Wilson wasn't sacked Sunday, but he was still put under duress on a career-high 55 percent of his dropbacks (16 of 29). Wilson entered the game as the most pressured quarterback (39 percent of dropbacks). Wilson threw both of his touchdowns and gained 125 of 217 passing yards when under duress Sunday. The Falcons have not had much success beating the quarterback, this season but playing at home may be just what they need.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that despite having a decent defensive team in Seattle, this could be a high scoring game. The total has gone over in 4 of Seattle's last 6 games when playing on the road against Atlanta, the total has gone OVER in 6 of Seattle's last 7 games when playing Atlanta and the total has gone OVER in 8 of Seattle's last 11 games on the road. Seattle is 1-4 straight up in its last 5 games when playing Atlanta, but they are 13-2-1 straight up in its last 16 games and 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games on the road. Atlanta is 14-4 straight up in its last 18 games at home, but just 2-4 against the spread (ATS) in its last 6 games when playing at home against Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/05/2013 01:47 PM

At its best, the Seahawks defense is 11 moving parts working as one. Just a single misstep by a player, though, can cause the whole thing to go awry.

“Everybody is tied on a string on our defense,’’ said safety Earl Thomas. “When somebody messes up, it just opens up a hole and you get gashed.’’

That’s happened with alarming frequency the past two weeks as Seattle has allowed 200 yards rushing against both the Rams (200) and the Buccaneers (205), something the Seahawks had done only once during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

The Seahawks have won the past two weeks but that doesn’t minimize the urgency to get the problem fixed in time for Sunday’s game at Atlanta.

“We’ve got to keep working hard at it,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “And it’s a big, dedicated effort because we don’t want to go that way.’’

The task should be easier this week at Atlanta. The Falcons are last in the NFL in rushing at just more than 64 yards per game.

But then, the Rams and Bucs also ranked near the bottom in rushing entering their games against the Seahawks. And each featured rookie running backs (the Rams’ Zac Stacy and Tampa Bay’s Mike James), who each rushed for career highs as each team took the Seahawks to the wire despite being at least a two-touchdown underdog.

Thomas called it “a humbling experience’’ and took a lot of the blame, saying that as the team’s free safety he is in charge of making sure the back end of the defense is in proper spots. “I’ve definitively got to play better to put the guys in better position to tackle better,’’ he said. “I’ve just got to do a lot of stuff better.’’

Carroll, though, said everyone shared fault. “Unfortunately, we missed some reads on a couple of new plays that they ran,” Carroll said. “They (the Bucs) did a nice job in changing it up and we weren’t as sharp and the ball got out on us. ... We’re just off a little bit and we have not fixed it in these two weeks.’’

Carroll said he preferred to think of it more as a blip than a trend, noting that two weeks ago the Seahawks held the Arizona Cardinals to 30 yards rushing.

In fact, after that game the Seahawks ranked sixth in the NFL in run defense, allowing 91.6 yards per game, appearing to have made good on their offseason vow to improve. Now, Seattle has slipped to 19th, allowing 116.2 yards per game.

Seattle started K.J. Wright at middle linebacker and Malcolm Smith on the weak side against Arizona (and against Tennessee, as well, when the Titans rushed for 66 yards) with Bobby Wagner out with a sprained ankle. With Wagner back, Seattle has returned to its projected starting lineup of Wagner in the middle and Wright on the weak side.

Carroll said everything would be evaluated but noted, as did Thomas, that singling out any one spot as the problem is difficult.

Thomas said if there was a trend it was in facing runners willing to wait for plays to develop.

“Patient running backs,’’ he said of what the Rams and Bucs had in common. “I think when we have an impatient running back we have a lot of success because we are so aggressive. Right now, that aggressive nature, they are using it against us.’’

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/05/2013 01:49 PM

In the past eight days, the Seattle Seahawks have laid two eggs. One versus the Rams at St. Louis on Monday Night Football, and another Sunday against the winless Tampa Bay Bucs. They won both games, despite playing poorly for much of each game in many areas. If they do it again Sunday at Atlanta, they’ll fly home losers.

The Atlanta Falcons are not a good football team. They rank at No. 17 in total offense, No. 16 in total defense and are 2-6 on the season. They are without wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and rank dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game — partially because their defense allows 27 points per game, 7th worst in football, and can’t get off the field on third downs — they rank No. 30 in the league at 45.8 percent at third down conversions on defense.

Even considering all of that, the Falcons are better equipped to take advantage of significant Seahawks shortcomings. How? Two words: Matt Ryan.

Ryan is among the top six or eight quarterbacks in the league, despite the loss of his two best outside receivers and the 10 interceptions he’s thrown. The way teams have beaten the Falcons this season is by forcing them to throw the ball predictably. To do that, those teams have stopped the run early and scored points offensively. The Hawks have had problems doing both the past two weeks.

Ryan still has weapons, too, in the greatest tight end of all time in Tony Gonzalez, and wide receiver Harry Douglas, who has 22 catches for 352 yards over the past three weeks, and has shown he and Ryan are on the same page.

The two backs that lit up Seattle of late — Zac Stacy of the Rams and Mike James of the Buccaneers, are very similar in size, speed and style. Both are Shorter — Stacy at 5-foot-8, James at 5-foot-10, but both have power bursts and run through poor technique on tackles.

That type of runner exists in Atlanta, too. Jacquizz Rodgers is 5-foot-6 and 200 pounds with the exact same style as Stacy and James. The Falcons also employ Steven Jackson, who is a power threat, but has lost the burst he once had in St. Louis. Still, the Seahawks’ poor tackling will haunt them if it shows up again. Ryan will make sure of it.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/05/2013 01:50 PM

It’s hard to believe that in January this year, the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks met in the NFC Divisional Playoffs that ended with Atlanta kicking the game-winning field goal as time expired. Seattle was considered the weaker of the two teams and Atlanta was expected to dominate the Seahawks in that game.

Now the tables have completely turned. Seattle not only is off to their best start in franchise history, but they are atop the NFC with an 8-1 record. But over the past two games, Seattle has had to rally to win against teams that they should have had no trouble dominating. They needed a goal-line stand against the Sam Bradford-less Rams and against Tampa Bay they needed to score 17-straight points just to force overtime.

Those two wins are important because both the Rams and Bucs represent Atlanta’s only two wins of the season, and the Falcons didn’t have nearly as tough a time beating either team as Seattle did.

On offense, there is one thing that Atlanta does especially well: pass the ball. Averaging 289.2 passing yards each contest, quarterback Matt Ryan has kept his team in nearly every game. Ryan has completed 67.8 percent of his pass attempts for 2,442 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 91.7.

While Ryan has done a good job with one of Atlanta’s star receivers, Julio Jones, out of the rest of the season and their other star receiver, Roddy White, battling leg injuries, the Falcons have been throwing the ball a lot more to their starting tight end Tony Gonzalez and Jones’ replacement, Harry Douglas. Gonzalez leads the team in catches with 44 receptions, 476 yards and four touchdowns. Harry Douglas has 38 catches and is the only active Falcon with more than 500 receiving yards (571) and one touchdown of his own.

The rest of Atlanta’s offensive numbers are nothing special. The 22 points scored each game rank them 18th in the league and the 353.6 total yards of offense are the 12th most this season.

The one thing the Falcons do not do well is run the football. This is partially because their starting running back Steven Jackson was injured in Week 2 and is just returning to his former self. Either way, the 64.4 rushing yards per game is the absolute worst in the league. Atlanta’s three main running backs, Jacquizz Rodgers, Steven Jackson and Jason Snelling have combined for 485 rushing yards on 140 carries and three touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the football, nothing Atlanta does is especially noteworthy. The four major defensive statistics (points, total yards, passing yards and rushing yards) all rank in the bottom half of the league with none of them any higher than 20th.

The 27.2 points the Falcons allow rank 26th in the league. While this is the worst ranking for any of the defensive categories, it’s most important because it’s the only one that matters at the end of the day. The 364.9 total yards allowed each game rank 21st and the 248.6 passing yards and 116.2 rushing yards given up both rank 20th.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/06/2013 02:27 PM

It was only a week ago that Seahawks fans were fretting about their offense. And for good reason. Their offensive line was a joke against the Rams. The play calling was bizarre. Marshawn Lynch was an afterthought and Sidney Rice was lost for the season. Lost in the embarrassment of falling so far behind an winless Tampa Bay team was an offensive performance that contained a variety of encouraging elements which may signal the start of a powerful offensive run.

Everything started with a return to their identity as a smash mouth running team. Seattle had allowed teams to psych them out of running the ball with extra men in the box. That stopped on Sunday. A Seahawks team that had completely changed their profile on first down plays to be roughly equal pass and run went back to pounding the rock on first down. Twenty-two of the Seahawks thirty-two first downs were running plays. Tampa knew it was coming, and was among the best run defense in the NFL. It did not matter. Seahawks rushers averaged a whopping 5.3 yards per carry on first down. Both Lynch and Robert Turbin, who had his best game of the season, averaged over 5.5 yards per carry on first down.

This allowed Wilson's throws on first down to be that much more effective. He was 7-10 passing with a 9.2 yards per attempt average and a 92.5 passer rating on first down. He would have been even higher if he had not thrown that interception in the end zone late in the game, which came on a first down throw.

Seattle was gaining large chunks of yards throughout the afternoon. The Bucs had only allowed 12 explosive runs (12+ yard gains) all season before Sunday. The Seahawks collected a season-high seven in one game. They added seven explosive passes (16+ yards) for a total of 14 explosive plays, also a season-high. The only game where the team had more explosive passes was when the Jaguars came to town and they had nine.

A telling number was the four explosive catches Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse combined to haul in. Rice had just six explosive catches all season. Baldwin not only collected a team-high six catches for 75 yards, but also did it with far more repeatable routes. His highlight reel catch along the sideline aside, Wilson was able to find Baldwin in open spaces within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage time and again on curls and stick routes. Rice never really got a chance to showcase just how talented he was during his time in Seattle, but the Seahawks offense may be better right now with Baldwin in his place.

The gains in the passing game and running game start with the unit more chided than any other on the team. Seattle's offensive line followed up a performance that saw them yield seven-sacks with a zero sack effort versus Tampa. Wilson still got hit, and hit hard, but the sack shutout should not be overlooked. It was the first game since Week 8 of last season that the Seahawks had not surrendered a sack. Only three teams in the NFL this season have allowed zero sacks and averaged at least 5.6 yards per carry.

FACT: Only three teams in the NFL this season have allowed zero sacks and averaged at least 5.6 yards per carry in a game. Seattle is one of them.

That helped Seattle to more sustained drives than at any other point in the season. The Seahawks registered six drives of over 50 yards. They had not had a game of more than four such drives before Sunday. The Denver Broncos offense that is being talked about as one of the best in history, has only one game this season with more 50+ yard drives, and that is when they had seven versus the Cowboys when they scored 51 points.

Seattle's opponent this week, the Atlanta Falcons, run out a defense that has given up the ninth-most 50+ yard drives, the third-worst opponent passer rating (100.5), the seventh-worst yards per carry (4.5), and in the bottom third in sack percentage. There will be no Darrelle Revis to take away one receiving option. There will be no Mark Barron or Lavonte David or Gerald McCoy. This a game where the Seahawks offense should absolutely expect to score 30 points or more. It would not be a surprise to see them explode into the mid-30s or higher.

The coaching staff appeared to have received the necessary wake-up call in the Rams game, and got the team back to the identity that suits them. Players on the offensive line and receiving corps have stepped up. This offense is ready to carry more weight. They need to do it again this week.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/06/2013 02:28 PM

In what looked like a marquee NFC game going into this season, the Seahawks will travel to Atlanta on Sunday to face the hapless 2-6 Falcons. The most important obstacle in that sentence may be the travel rather than the Falcons themselves. Making trips to the South Eastern corner of the country is not fun for the Seahawks, although they pulled out a tough win at Carolina in Week One. This game will be the 6th road game of the season which is good news because it points to a favorable schedule down the stretch (although the trip to San Francisco still looms overhead). As the Seahawks are on the verge of embarking on one of the longest possible road trips in the NFL it seems like as good a time as any to evaluate where they are as a road team.

The Seahawks currently are sporting a 4-1 record on the road and may well be on the way to their best road season in franchise history. They may be on the way to their best overall season in history so I suppose that shouldn’t come as an immense surprise, but it’s still significant. In the last two years this team has gone from one that consistently loses on the road to one that guts out tough wins in hostile stadiums. The easiest way to improve in that way is to have a really good team, something that the Seahawks have, but it also seems that this team is less phased by venturing out of the CLink than previous iterations. Below is a chart showing how the Seahawks play on the road compared to how they play at home this season. Keep in mind that the quality of the opposition is a factor. On the road the Seahawks have played two good teams (The Colts and the Panthers) one average one (Arizona) and two lousy ones (Houston & St. Louis). At home they have played one tough opponent (San Francisco), one OK opponent (Tennessee) and two lousy teams (Tampa Bay and Jacksonville). Given that very unscientific classification system one would expect worse numbers on the road even if there was no difference between playing in Seattle or elsewhere.

As expected this is a team that dominates at home (except last week) and does just enough on the road.

The Seahawks have come a long way as a road team under Pete Carroll. They have not reached the point where they can dominate on the road the way they do at home, but few teams can. Additionally, the remoteness of Seattle’s location in the context of where NFL franchises are located will always lead to massive travelling distances which are likely to exaggerate the splits here. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the 12th man as a factor here as well, especially on defense. The Seahawks may not be world beaters on the road just yet, but they’ve come a long way. They are now a pretty good team outside their building, if not a fantastic one, which is an achievement for this franchise. It’s a bit sad that being OK on the road puts you in a position to break franchise records there, but that’s where we sit right now. More than anything these numbers make me look forward to the four home contests in the last six games this year. When you include the return of Seattle’s offensive tackles and Percy Harvin it’s shaping up to be a strong finish.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/06/2013 02:30 PM

For the third straight week, Seattle is playing against a team that, on paper, they should crush. But with the past two games coming down to the wire (and then some against Tampa Bay in overtime), nothing is a given. If the Seahawks want to remain undefeated against the NFC this season, here are three keys to ensuring their ninth win of the season.

3. Force Atlanta to beat you with their running game.

This year the Falcons were supposed to get a huge upgrade in their running game with the addition of Steven Jackson. It hasn’t exactly panned out the way they were hoping, with Jackson only playing in four of Atlanta’s eight games so far, thanks to an injury he suffered in Week 2 against his former team.

There’s no nice way to say this: Atlanta’s rushing attack is dreadful. Averaging 64.4 yards per game is the absolute worst in the league. Even with Jackson back in the lineup, Atlanta is still using backup running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who leads the team in rushing attempts, yards and rushing touchdowns, on occasion to give Jackson time to get back into playing shape. Rodgers and Jackson have combined for 360 rushing yards on 105 carries for a less than awe-inspiring 3.4 yards per attempt.

2. Don’t turn the ball over.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a little more in depth than win the turnover battle because Atlanta does a terrible job of holding onto the ball and an even worse job of forcing turnovers. The Falcons defense has forced only six fumbles and interceptions apiece while they’ve thrown 10 interceptions and coughed up five fumbles for a negative-seven in the turnover department, the fifth worst in the league. Seattle is currently at plus-six, the sixth best ratio in the league.

1. Shut Down Tony Gonzalez

Even with Roddy White injured the entire season so far and Julio Jones now out for the rest of the season, the Atlanta Falcons still average almost 290 passing yards each game, the fifth best in the league. Matt Ryan may no longer be on pace to break his current personal bests, but he’s not far off. He’s on pace to throw for almost 4,900 yards and 30 touchdowns.

With White’s status still unknown for this game, expect Ryan to turn to his security blanket in the form of a 6’5”, 247 pound sure fire first-ballot Hall of Fame tight end, Tony Gonzalez. Even when Julio Jones was in the lineup, Tony Gonzalez was doing his part to keep Atlanta in every game. In back-to-back weeks against the New England Patriots and New York Jets Gonzalez was double-teamed through the majority of the game. It didn’t matter as he pulled in 22 receptions for 246 yards and two touchdowns.

Gonzalez still leads the Falcons in receptions and touchdowns with 44 and four, respectively. Seattle’s best bet to neutralize Gonzalez is to have their best defender match-up with him anytime he’s on the field. If Ryan has to beat the Seahawks with Harry Douglas and ‘Quizz Rodgers as his primary options, so be it.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/07/2013 01:45 PM

A dramatic field goal for the Atlanta Falcons ousted the Seattle Seahawks from the playoffs last season. Matt Ryan's recent play is a big reason why the potential for a postseason rematch is unlikely.

The Seahawks return to the Georgia Dome on Sunday looking to gain a measure of revenge and capitalize on Ryan's struggles while seriously damaging what's left of the Falcons' playoff hopes.

Seattle (8-1) seemed headed for the NFC championship game when Marshawn Lynch scored with 31 seconds left, but Ryan helped Atlanta get in position for Matt Bryant's 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to win 30-28.

The Seahawks had put together their own comeback, erasing a 20-point, second-half deficit, but they're looking for a much more complete performance this time.

"Understanding that we gotta come out fast and finish," linebacker Bobby Wagner told the team's official website. "We get another opportunity to play these guys. Last year they kicked us out of the playoffs, so you kinda get an opportunity to pay them back."

Seattle surely seems capable, owning the best record in the NFC behind a defense which ranks second with 296.0 yards allowed per game. The unit is also second in passing yards allowed (179.8) and is tied with Denver for the most interceptions at 13.

That may not bode well for Ryan, who has thrown seven picks and only two touchdowns in back-to-back losses for Atlanta (2-6). However, he's 3-0 against Seattle in his career - including playoffs - with seven scoring passes against three interceptions.

Ryan went 20 of 27 for 219 yards and a touchdown last weekend, but tossed three INTs with one returned for a touchdown in a 34-10 loss at Carolina.

"We've got to take care of the football," coach Mike Smith said. "Possession of the football is nine-tenths of the game. That's what you've got to do when you're on the offensive side of the ball.

"You have to possess the football, and it's not just the responsibility of the quarterback. It's the responsibility of everyone on the offensive side, including the coaches, in terms of making sure we take care of the ball."

Still, much of Atlanta's success rests on Ryan, who has five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 129.3 passer rating in the team's victories. He has 10 scores, 10 picks and an 81.9 rating in the defeats.

That's a key reason why the Falcons have been one of the NFL's biggest disappointments this season.

"I think everybody is disappointed with where we're at, there's no question about it," Ryan said. "I think there were high expectations for our football team coming into the year, but certainly things have not gone as we'd hoped.

"You've got to keep plugging away. You've got to keep working hard and try to find ways to make it better. I think that's what all of us are trying to do."

Ryan could get some help if wide receiver Roddy White is able to return from a knee injury, which has sidelined him for three games.

Production from the running game could also give Atlanta a boost. The Falcons are last in the league, averaging 64.4 yards with three TDs, but the Seahawks have given up at least 200 in each of the past two games.

"We understand that we've been struggling with the run a little bit, and I kind of take that personally because I'm the middle linebacker," Wagner said.

Seattle's ground game has been potent because of Lynch, who is second in the league with 726 yards while gaining 4.3 per carry with seven total touchdowns.

The star back ran for a season-high 125 yards on 21 carries last week, but 44 came on six rushes during a 51-yard drive that set up the winning field goal in a 27-24 overtime win over Tampa Bay.

Lynch, however, could be in for a tough test since center Max Unger (concussion) could be out. The team is already expected to be without tackles Russell Okung (foot) and Breno Giacomini (knee) for at least one more game.

The injuries on the line have likely contributed to Russell Wilson being among the most sacked quarterbacks in the NFL with 27.

Wilson, who was sacked twice by the Falcons in the playoffs, completed 24 of 36 passes for 385 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran seven times for 60 yards and another score.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/08/2013 02:23 PM

Last year's NFC South champions and No. 1 seed in the NFC is just 2-6 on the season and it could get even worse with the Seattle Seahawks in town Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Seattle will try to exact revenge from a 30-28 loss at Atlanta in last year's divisional playoff game. The Seahawks rallied from a 20-0 deficit, but a Matt Bryant field goal with eight seconds left sent them home for the offseason.

The Seahawks have the best record in the conference and are 5-0 against teams from the NFC. They have ripped off four straight victories and are off to the best start in franchise history at 8-1. In Sunday's hard-fought 27-24 overtime win over hapless Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers stormed out to a 21-0 lead, but the Seahawks persevered by scoring 27 of the next 30 points.

Steven Hauschka's 27-yard field goal in the extra stanza kept the NFC West- leading Seahawks rolling.

"That was a huge win. You think about the deficit we were under and to be able to comeback in that fashion, that's big time," Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said.

Seattle has now won 12 straight home games to match the franchise record set from 2004-06 and will put its 4-1 road mark on the line in Atlanta. Much of Seattle's success this season has come through the run game, most notably Marshawn Lynch, who is second in the NFL with 726 yards on 167 carries and ran for 125 on 21 touches versus the Bucs.

"Our guys really did a great job of blocking," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said after the game.

Lynch is nursing a banged-up knee and the Seahawks, who posted 198 yards on the ground in the recent win, are fifth in the NFL in rushing (147.0 ypg). Wilson can run, too, and had 36 yards and a score Sunday. Wilson also completed 19-of-26 passes for 217 yards with two TD passes and two interceptions. Seattle is 27th in passing, averaging 200.8 yards through the air.

Wide receivers Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are Wilson's primary targets and Lynch plays a role out of the backfield. Lynch is fourth on the team with 19 receptions.

The Falcons are embroiled in what seems to be a disappointing season at 2-6. Picked to win the NFC South and possibly represent the conference in the Super Bowl, the Falcons lost their second straight game Sunday in a 34-10 loss at Carolina.

Quarterback Matt Ryan was ice cold, passing for 219 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. The biggest issue for the Falcons besides their terrible run production, which is last in the NFL (64.4 ypg), is that wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White have been banged up. Jones (foot) is out for the season and White is bothered by a hamstring, but is probable Sunday.

White hasn't played since Oct. 7 in a Monday night loss to the New York Jets.

So who's left for Ryan and the fifth-rated pass attack (289.2 ypg)? Harry Douglas (571 yards, TD) and future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez (476 yards, 4 TD), who leads the squad in receiving touchdowns. Gonzalez had 81 yards and a score on six receptions against the Panthers.

Ryan talked about the team's attitude leading up to Sunday's game with Seattle.

"I think everybody is disappointed with where we're at, there's no question about it," Ryan stated. "I think there were high expectations for our football team coming into the year, but certainly things have not gone as we'd hoped. Such is life. You've got to adjust. You've got to keep plugging away. You've got to keep working hard and try to find ways to make it better. I think that's what all of us are trying to do."

Ryan threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns with two picks in that playoff win over the Seahawks. It was the first playoff meeting between the teams. Seattle is winless in the last four matchups with Atlanta, but leads the all- time series by an 8-6 count.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/08/2013 02:24 PM

Don't be surprised if the Falcons finally get things going with their putrid ground attack headed by the aging Steven Jackson. Jackson is second on the team in rushing yards with only 140 and has played in just four games. Jackson ran for 57 yards on 13 carries.

Jacquizz Rodgers only had five carries for 19 yards and Falcons head coach Mike Smith is seeing improvement in the run game on Monday.

"If there were some positives that you take away from the game: the offensive line's play in pass protection and we ran the ball more effectively. Not as good as we would like to, but I felt like we ran the ball more effectively," Smith said. "When you turn the ball over like we did yesterday and like we did the week before, it makes it very difficult to get the outcome that you want."

The Seahawks are 19th against the run (116.2 ypg) and allowed the Bucs to grind out 205 yards on the ground, 158 of which came from Mike James on 28 carries. So there could be a bright side for Atlanta on Sunday.

The Falcons are primarily a passing team and the Seahawks thrive in shutting opposing aerial attacks down. With talented and verbal cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas, Atlanta will have its hands full. Both players have four interceptions for a defense that is tied with Denver in interceptions with 13 total.

But the Seahawks have to be cautious up front and have allowed 405 rushing yards in the past two games after allowing an average of 91.6 in their first six. Carroll hopes that will be corrected come Sunday.

"We were sloppy in our run fits, again," Carroll said. "Unfortunately we missed some reads on a couple of new plays that they (Bucs) ran, did a nice job in changing up. And we weren't as sharp. We're just off a little bit and we have not fixed it in these two weeks, obviously, with that many yards being run. We've got to keep working hard at it."

The Seahawks have talented pass rushers in Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons. They each have at least 3 1/2 sacks, with Bennett leading the trio with 5 1/2. Clinton McDonald has 3 1/2 sacks as well.