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2012 NFC Divisional Picks: Falcons over Seahawks

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 30:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons points out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense at Georgia Dome on December 30, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jake WestrichSenior Writer IJanuary 8, 2013

Not to take anything away from Russell Wilson and all he's accomplished in his rookie season, but Marshawn Lynch is the key to offensive success against the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday's Divisional Round showdown.

The breakdown is quite simple: over the last six games, Lynch averaged 111.8 rush yards per game with eight touchdown, including seven rushing. The Falcons defensive weakness remains against the run, with 123.2 yards per game and 16 touchdowns allowed.

In their first two losses of the season, the Falcons allowed the Saints and Panthers rushing attack to run for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Tampa Bay rushed for 144 yards against the Falcons in Week 17 after Atlanta had secured a first-round bye and home-field throughout the NFL Playoffs.

Atlanta's pass defense may have finished 23rd against the pass after allowing 242 pass yards per game, but they allowed a league-low 14 passing touchdowns and finished fourth in turnover margin with plus-13, tied with the Seahawks.

Seattle allows a league-low 15.3 points per game, but Matt Ryan's high-flying Falcons' pass attack averaged 26.2 points per game and did not score fewer than 17 points in a game during the regular season and the 17-point effort came Week 17 against the Buccaneers after already clinching the playoffs.

Using our NFL simulation engine, we "played" the Seahawks and Falcons 501 times and it likes Atlanta 52.6 percent of the time by an average score of 20-19.

Note: Our simulation engine does not factor crazy West-East-West-East travel schedules, but something people should consider when analyzing Seattle's chances at Atlanta.

NFC Divisional: Seahawks at Falcons
Matchup Win% Avg Score WIS Interactive
Seattle Seahawks 47.4 19 Boxscore
@ Atlanta Falcons 52.6 20 Simulate Game

Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2012 NFL season.

Check out our 2012 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.

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