It’s Blue Friday of Week 3, and for the 2022 Seattle Seahawks that means the Atlanta Falcons are heading to town trying to become the first team to win in Lumen Field in 2022. And, with it being the regular season, Field Gulls reached out to Kevin Knight of The Falcoholic to get answers from the perspective of the enemy regarding the upcoming game. So, without wasting any time, here are the five questions posed and the five answers provided.
1. Atlanta is winless through the first two games, but has dropped two absolute heartbreakers. How do fans feel about the team and the direction things are heading following those two close losses?
Honestly, most Falcons fans are so used to crushing losses and blown leads that they simply don’t have the impact they once did. Obviously, there’s a lot of frustration with the way things ended in Week 1. It’s too familiar and too predictable. Week 2 left a better taste in the mouth, as it was the Falcons rallying from a big deficit for a chance at a huge comeback win for once. They fell short, but that was progress compared to last year. This year’s 0-2 start doesn’t feel much like 2021’s 0-2 start, where Atlanta was outscored by nearly 50 points in the first two games. Thus far in 2022, they’ve lost two games against projected playoff teams by a combined five points. I think there’s significant optimism for the future, but this is still an undermanned roster dealing with a comically large amount of dead cap.
2. The Falcons offense has moved the ball well so far this season, but has also been prone to committing turnovers. What does the team need to do differently to avoid those turnovers in order to possibly snag a road victory in Seattle?
The Falcons have been particularly sloppy with fumbles over the first two weeks. Random fumbles forced by the defense are always going to happen, so my concerns lie mostly with the snap issues. Atlanta is starting a young, second-year center in Drew Dalman and that transition hasn’t been entirely smooth. If those issues don’t get cleaned up quickly, we’ll likely see 2021 starter Matt Hennessy return to the lineup. Marcus Mariota has actually taken good care of the football, for the most part. His issue is overall accuracy, as he tends to throw high on deep passes or passes to the sideline. It helps that Atlanta’s receiving corps is pretty massive (Pitts 6’6, London 6’5, Edwards 6’3, Hodge 6’3), but Mariota has to get those passes more on-target.
3. Seattle fans know the big names on the Falcons roster in Mariota, Pitts, Patterson, Terrell and the rest. Who is a player that Seattle fans may not be familiar with who could play a significant role in the outcome of the game?
You didn’t mention Drake London, but I’m sure everyone is pretty familiar with the rookie receiver by now. The same goes for Grady Jarrett on the interior defensive line, as he can be a game-wrecker if he’s properly supported. On offense, keep an eye on receivers Olamide Zaccheaus and KhaDarel Hodge—Mariota has targeted them frequently with Kyle Pitts getting most of the defense’s attention. On defense, veteran CB Casey Hayward has had a good start to the season as the CB2 next to Terrell. He notched a pick against the Rams and has given Atlanta a very good complement to Terrell.
4. This is a matchup of red zone defenses that have performed as near polar opposites so far this season. Seattle has allowed two touchdowns on nine opponent drives into the red zone, while the Falcons have given up touchdowns on seven of eight red zone drives. Has there been a particular weak link for Atlanta once an opponent has reached scoring territory? And if there has been such a weak link is it something that they can fix or is it something that the Seahawks could potentially exploit in order to score their first red zone touchdown of the season?
Ultimately, the Falcons are just not very talented on defense—particularly on the defensive line. Atlanta struggles to get pressure without blitzing, and blitzing in the red zone is dangerous. They’ve performed well against the run, for the most part, but until they can add a few more impact starters alongside Grady Jarrett, they will simply get outclassed in this area of the field by more talented offenses. Will Seattle have as much success as New Orleans or Los Angeles? That I don’t know. It’ll certainly be telling for both teams.
5. What’s your prediction for the game, and should fans be expecting the offenses to break out and exceed the O/U (42 at the time of writing)?
I do think the Falcons find a way to win this one. Last season, Atlanta’s specialty was beating teams that were similar in talent level to them. I don’t really know what to make of the Seahawks after two weeks. Is the win over Denver that impressive, considering their struggles? I’m not sure. I certainly don’t think the Falcons should take any team lightly, but fans would call for my head if I didn’t have them winning in Seattle. This will be a good test for both teams against a “lesser” opponent, and I think we’ll find out whether or not Atlanta or Seattle will be making strides this season, or languishing in the dregs of the NFL. In terms of the over/under, I could actually see it going over considering that both defenses are bad.
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