Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1; 9-8 ATS; 9-8 O/U) vs. Atlanta Falcons (11-5; 10-6 ATS; 13-2 O/U)
NFC Divisional Playoff: Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 4:35 pm EST
Line: Atlanta -4.5
The Atlanta Falcons will host the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoff Saturday afternoon from the Georgia Dome. The Seahawks came away with a solid 26-6 Wildcard win over the Lions last week, and the Falcons enjoyed a first round bye and won the NFC South with an 11-5 record.
Seattle edged Atlanta by a 28-26 score in week six. Matt Ryan threw for 335 yards with three touchdowns for the Falcons, and Russell Wilson tallied 270 passing yards with zero touchdowns and no interceptions. The Seahawks recorded three rushing touchdowns in the win. The game included a controversial non-call on Richard Sherman that would have gave Atlanta a great chance to win the game if the pass interference was called.
Seahawks Defense Shines in Win Over Lions
The Seattle Seahawks played the perfect defensive game in their 26-6 win over the Lions in the Wildcard game last week, allowing only two field goals. They will face a much tougher task against the Falcons offense this week. Russell Wilson played well in the win over Detroit, connecting on 23 of 30 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. The first touchdown was a spectacular catch made by Paul Richardson who made the grab with one hand. The play resulted in a pass interference on Detroit and a face mask on Richardson which was not called and was later admitted to be a missed call by the refs. Regardless of the missed call, Seattle deserved to win this game as they looked great on both sides of the ball. The biggest offensive catalyst in this one was the play of Thomas Rawls who was tremendous, rushing for 161 yards off 27 carries, averaging six yards per carry. The Lions could not stop Rawls and look for Seattle to give him several carries in this one as well. The performance from Rawls was somewhat surprising to many as he had only rushed for over 100 yards once all season, and collected 349 rushing yards in ten games played this season. The Seahawks are reasonably healthy on offense with the exception of receiver Tyler Lockett who is out of the year. Seattle is now averaging 22.1 points per game, ranking them 21st in the NFL.
The Seahawks defense did not allow the Lions to reach the red zone the entire game last week. Stafford could not do much and the Lions only rushed for 49 yards as a team. Look for the Seahawks to play a very similar style against the Falcons. The absence of strong safety Earl Thomas could be an issue for Seattle in this one. The matchup to look for is the Richard Sherman/Julio Jones battle that will be going on the entire game. Seattle’s outstanding defense is now allowing an average of only 18.2 points per game, good for third in the NFL.
High-Flying Falcons Ready for Seahawks Defense
The Atlanta Falcons head into the Divisional Playoffs aiming for their first playoff win since 2012 which was a 30-28 home win over the Seahawks. Matt Ryan had a spectacular season, throwing for 4944 yards with a dazzling 38:7 TD to INT ratio, the second-highest touchdown total in the NFL. Julio Jones also had a monstrous season, collecting 1409 receiving yards and recorded over 100 receiving yards in seven of 14 games. Watch for the Jones to be lined up against Sherman in what will be a marquee matchup. If Ryan is able to find Jones several times then the Falcons have a good chance of winning this game. The Falcons also feature a strong running game led by Devonta Freeman who finished the season with 1079 rushing yards, and averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry. Atlanta features a powerhouse offense that is averaging a remarkable 33.8 points per game, ranking them first in the NFL.
The Falcons defense is a bit of concern going into this contest. They have struggled to defend the pass all season, finishing with the 28th ranked pass defense. The Falcons are without cornerback Desmond Trufant who has not played since November which is a bit of a hit to their secondary. Atlanta does feature Vic Beasly Jr. who lead the NFL with 15 sacks, and middle linebacker Deion Jones who made three interceptions this season. Atlanta is allowing an average of 25.4 points per game, placing them down at 27th overall.
The Seattle Seahawks are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff games.
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games after accumulating more than 150 rushing yards in their previous game.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 against the NFC.
I am going with the Falcons in this one. The Falcons offense is just too dangerous, plus they are at home so I like them with this reasonable spread. Matt Ryan was able to throw for over 300 yards with three touchdowns against Seattle in week four, and Julio Jones tallied 139 receiving yards in that one. Although the Seahawks looked good last week, they were at home and the Falcons offense is much more powerful the the Lions. Seattle will also have to worry about the Falcons strong running game that ranked fifth in the NFL, which they did not have to worry about last week against Detroit. Atlanta averaged 38.5 points per game over their last four games so I am very confident siding with them.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons -4.5
Seattle has a strong defense and do a good job covering the pass and run, but this Atlanta offense is too dangerous. Matt Ryan already torched the Seahawks for 335 passing yards with three touchdowns in week six and this was in Seattle. I expect the Falcons to put up big points, and the over is 8-0 in their last eight home games, and 5-0 in their last five home playoff games. Also, the Falcons defense will give up yards and points, so I expect Rawls to have success on the ground and Baldwin to have a big game in the air, plus the over is 4-1 in Seattle’s last five games after allowing fewer than 15 points in their previous game.