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Seahawks vs. Falcons Preview: 3 key matchups for Sunday’s battle

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks are coming off of a disappointing 27-7 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. The game was thrown in flux early on when Trey Lance left the game on their second drive with a season-ending ankle fracture. Seattle can only consider Week 2 to be a significant step back from their Week 1 showing as multiple key Seahawks did not show up against the 49ers. Geno Smith and co. do have what could be considered a get-right game against an 0-2 Atlanta Falcons team who are just coming off of a loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Atlanta does not have a deep roster, but they do have a few high-end players that are going to be pivotal in deciding the outcome of this game. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Seahawks as just 1-point favorites at home.

Down below we are going to evaluate those matchups and decide who has the edge in each one.

Drake London vs Seattle’s corners

Drake London is becoming the early odds-on favorite for the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The former USC Trojan has recorded 13 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown. London is an advanced route runner who can smoothly run the entire route tree. In the first video London runs a fantastic whip route that creates instant separation at the break of the route. As the tweet says he is able to get low into his hips really quickly and flip right out of it. On the second play despite not being able to create separation at the stem of the route, London is still able to feel the soft spot in the zone and work his way there to give Marcus Mariota an option on third down. London does a good job of using his size on this play to effectively box the defender out, preventing them from making a play on the ball.

The edge - Drake London - Seattle has done an admirable job against opposing offenses’ number one receivers, as they limited Courtland Sutton to 4 catches for 72 yards and held Brandon Aiyuk to 5 grabs for 63 yards. It is difficult to see that trend continuing this week in part due to the targets London commands as he is coming off of a game in which he had a 46.1% target share. Against Seattle, Sutton only had a target share of 16.7% whilst Aiyuk sat at 33%. Even if London was to regress down to a target share of 35% this weekend, he still may be in for a big day assuming he faces 1 on 1 coverage throughout the game against the likes of Tariq Woolen and Michael Jackson.

Grady Jarrett vs the IOL

Grady Jarrett is one of the more dominant interior defensive linemen in the NFL. His numbers did take a step back last season as he only had 1 sack to go along with 17 pressures and 10 QB knockdowns, but that does not paint the full picture of Jarrett’s weekly impact. On the first play Jarrett jabs the left guard on the chest then hits him with a quick swim move. He then takes on the center who he quickly sheds off of by throwing him to the side, after which he has the speed to chase Jameis Winston down the field after he moves him off of his spot. On the second play Jarrett is able to defeat the reach block from the center by gaining leverage on him and pushing him back three yards. This in turn forces Albin Kamara to cut back inside where the Falcons have multiple defenders.

The edge - Grady Jarrett - It is difficult for most interior offensive lines to stop Jarrett, so this is not an insult to the Seahawks unit and more so just a compliment to how good of a player Jarrett is. The Seahawks are coming off of a week in which they struggled to run the ball as they averaged a measly 2.6 yards per carry on 14 rushing attempts. That number is certainly far too low, especially with how this offense is built, although it is going to be difficult to improve on that against a defensive tackle like Grady Jarrett. There’s also great uncertainty with the Seahawks interior OL’s health, as center Austin Blythe has not practiced much this week with a shoulder injury.

Cordarrelle Patterson vs Seattle’s Front 7

Cordarrelle Patterson is in the second year of a career renaissance as a running back. The four-time first-team All Pro selection is averaging 4.2 yards per carry on 185 rushing attempts since the start of the 2021 season. In addition to that he has also received 75 targets, which has led to 55 receptions and 564 receiving yards in that span for the former wide receiver. He has not been as impactful in the passing game thus far this season as he only has 3 catches for 16 yards through the Falcons first two games.

On the first play Patterson is able to show off his elusiveness, which led to him being one of the best returners the league has ever seen. Marcus Davenport blows up the play off of the snap on what was a rather poorly designed running play. Once Patterson cuts it inside he uses two quick jump cuts and then jukes another New Orleans player before being taken to the ground.

On the first play in the second video Patterson is able to quickly decipher the hole and turn up field and accelerate for a big gain. There is an argument to be made that Patterson should have continued up field and taken on the third level defender rather than running parallel to the line of scrimmage, but it was still a large chunk play.

The edge - The front 7 - This one feels like a true toss-up. Seattle’s run defense has struggled thus far. In Week 1 they allowed Melvin Gordon to run for 4.8 yards a carry whilst Javonte Williams averaged 6.1 yards a tote. In Week 2 they gave up 4.7 yards per carry to Jeff Wilson and gave up 3.4 yards before contact to all 49ers rushers. On the flip side ,Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is not the running game schemer that Kyle Shanahan is nor is Cordarrelle Patterson the same type of back as Javonte Williams. I believe the duo of Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton gives the Seahawks the slightest of upper hands in this matchup.

Week 2 review

Trey Lance vs the front 7

Lance left the game with an injury on San Fran’s second drive of the game so this one can’t be judged.

Seattle’s linebackers vs the 49ers offensive line

Predicted edge - 49ers offensive line - Actual edge - 49ers offensive line

The Seahawks linebackers held up well for the most part in this game as Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton each posted 11 combined tackles, having to do a lot of clean-up for the struggling defensive line. Despite those numbers San Fran had it far too easy Sunday in the running game, and there was very little pass rush. They did do a good job of containing Tyrion Davis-Price as the rookie averaged only 2.4 yards per carry, but it is difficult to overlook that the former LSU Tiger was not even an active player for the opener against the Bears.

Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam vs Charles Cross and Abe Lucas

Predicted edge - Bosa and Ebukam - Actual edge - Bosa and Ebukam

Ebukam made little impact in this game only playing in 45% of the 49ers defensive snaps, reecording 3 combined tackles and 1 QB hit. Despite Ebukam’s lack of an impact Bosa did enough to give the Niners the clear edge. Against Seattle the fourth-year pro had two sacks, two tackles for a loss and 5 QB hits.

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)