What day is it? That’s right. It’s game day.
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Atlanta Falcons today in a Divisional rematch that is sure to deliver - a heavyweight showdown that will send ripples throughout the league.
Being an underdog is unfamiliar terrain for the Seahawks, but a welcome one in the sense that it contributes to the chip on every player’s shoulder. The Falcons are favored by five points, but that really means nothing. If Seattle can find a way to execute their game plan, they definitely have a shot at winning this game.
How, you ask? Do not fret, my friends. I am here to tell you.
Ride the momentum
In last week’s victory against the Detroit Lions, the Seahawks’ offensive line, which has consistently been dubbed as the single worst position group in the NFL, kicked some ass. Thomas Rawls reminded everybody that he is a top tier running back in the league.
To find a way to win this game, it is imperative that Seattle finds a way to run the ball against this defense, which is entirely plausible. Atlanta has a worse run defense than Detroit according to DVOA.
The Seahawks don’t need to run the ball to ‘establish the run.’ They need to run the ball to consistently put their offense in favorable situations. Pete Carroll loves to run on first and second down. If Seattle can generate production on the ground, then Russell Wilson will likely be much more efficient through the air. To keep up with the Falcons’ high-flying offense, this is a must.
Control the middle of the field
Did I mention that Atlanta has a high-flying offense? The explosive group has quietly been one of the highest scoring units in NFL history with an MVP-caliber quarterback in Matt Ryan and arguably the most dominant deep threat int he league in Julio Jones. This does not bode well for a defense sans Earl Thomas.
The Lions weren’t able to take advantage of Steven Terrell down the middle of the field. The Falcons are likely able to do so. Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league and there is no doubt in my mind that he is game-planning to attack Terrell.
In the first matchup between these two teams this season, an unbelievable performance from Earl Thomas pushed the Seahawks over the top to win the game. In Atlanta, the majority of Seattle’s defensive success relies on Terrell’s ability to be prompt and decisive in coverage. This will be an enormous factor in deciding who walks away with a victory.
Seattle has not been an efficient red zone offense at all in 2016. They are, in fact, ranked 24th in the league, according to Football Outsiders. Fortunately, Atlanta’s defense is ranked 29th in red zone efficiency.
The Falcons are going to score some points today. It’s pretty inevitable. The avenue that the Seahawks must take to win this game follows a simple formula: punch the damn ball into the end zone. Touchdowns. Not field goals.
To keep up with such a high-octane offense, Seattle must convert their red zone opportunities. This comes down to the decision-making of Wilson and the team’s collective execution of Darrell Bevell’s offense.
The Seahawks can win this game. You had best believe it. To do so, they need to block out the noise. They need to play like the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s game day. It’s time to go to work.