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NFC Divisional Round Preview: Seahawks at Falcons

January 14, 2017 • Ben Heck • Atlanta Falcons, Front Page, NFC, NFC South, NFC West, NFL Playoffs, Predictions, Preview, Seattle Seahawks

The best part of January: playoff football.

Following a 26-6 blowout win in the Wild Card round against Detroit last week, Seattle will travel down south to Atlanta and try to slow down Matt Ryan’s passing attack in this afternoon’s NFC Divisional Round match-up.

How the Seattle Seahawks can win…

In last week’s win, I personally thought there were a number of questionable calls against Detroit that could have potentially influenced the game greatly had it gone the other way. Either way, the 20-point victory didn’t feel as convincing as it appears on the box score. That being said, Seattle will need to actually force a few turnovers and put more pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan if they’d like to slow down Atlanta’s high-scoring offense. With Atlanta’s defense ranking in the bottom 10 in both scoring and yardage, Seattle’s Russell Wilson has a chance at dropping 30 points on Atlanta. But forcing turnovers will be key if they’d like to prevent this one from turning into a shootout.

How the Atlanta Falcons can win…

Atlanta has been to the Super Bowl just one time, in a blowout 34-19 loss to the John Elway-led Denver Broncos following the 1998-99 season. Atlanta (11-5) snagged the NFC South division title this season, putting up 10+ wins for the sixth time since 2004. This season, Atlanta put up 33.8 points per game, making them the highest-scoring offense in the league. Matt Ryan hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves, and Julio Jones is a big part of the offensive attack for obvious reasons. Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman ran for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 227 carries and Tevin Coleman added another 580 yards and eight touchdowns. If Seattle’s stout defense can’t slow down these four guys, it will be hard for them to keep Atlanta out of the Conference Championship next week. Heavy dosage of the run game early on, and Atlanta could have a great day through the air as well.

Our Pick: Falcons, 28-24

Putting up 24 points on a defense like Seattle’s will put any team in great position to win a game. And if they can put up 30? Almost a guarantee victory for Atlanta today. Seattle’s defense has allowed 30+ points just twice this season, but both of them resulted in losses for the ‘Hawks. If Atlanta can stop Thomas Rawls from another 161-yard game like he put up last week against Detroit, they can win this one.

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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