Seahawks vs. Falcons: Why Seattle's Defense Will Stifle Atlanta's Offense

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2013

SEATTLE, WA. - DECEMBER 23: Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates a tackle during the fourth quarter of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle,Wa. The Seahawks won the game 42-13. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

When the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons meet in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday afternoon, the matchup will feature one of the NFL's best offenses vs. a top-five defense.

The Atlanta offense has rolled this season, posting the sixth-best passing offense while averaging more than 26 PPG, which ranks No. 7 in the NFL.

Seattle, on the other hand, boasts the No. 4 overall defense in the league while holding opponents to a mere 15.3 PPG, which is best in the NFL.

Sure does make for a compelling playoff matchup, right?

Maybe not.

As good as the Falcons have been this year, they have yet to face a stingy defense like the Seahawks have.

Shall I even bring up the fact that Atlanta's only three losses this season came at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two of three defenses ranked 29th or lower?

And then there's always Matt Ryan's 0-3 playoff record.

You can argue to no avail that it's a new season and this is a "different" Falcons team, but the fact remains that Ryan doesn't win in the playoffs.

Let's take a look at Ryan's career playoff performance:

Opponent Result Comp/Att Yards TD Int Rating
at Arizona Loss 26-40 199 2 2 72.8
Green Bay Loss 20-29 186 1 2 69.0
at New York Loss 24-41 199 0 0 71.1

It's true that two of the three teams Atlanta faced did go on to win the Super Bowl, but if the Falcons can't beat a championship-caliber team in the postseason, how are they ever going to reach the Super Bowl?

Seattle's defense isn't going to overwhelm opposing quarterbacks with sacks—it had just 36 this year, which tied for 18th—but the Seahawks have big, physical corners who can mix it up with Roddy White and Julio Jones.

Losing Chris Clemons is a big blow to the Seattle defense (h/t ESPN), but it can still have great success on Sunday afternoon.

The Seahawks are no stranger to holding solid offenses to few points (Dallas, Green Bay, San Francisco twice and Minnesota), and it won't be any different against the Falcons.

Aside from a staunch Seattle defense, also going against Atlanta is the long layover from game action.

The New York Giants and Green Bay Packers have proved in recent years that playing every week and remaining hot is the formula for success in the NFL.

Which is exactly what the Seahawks have done this season.

Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will undoubtedly have their hands full with White and Jones on Sunday, but the duo hasn't flinched all season and appears ready to handle the Falcons' deadly receiving corps.

As far as Atlanta's rushing game, it has been largely inconsistent. Against the No. 10 rushing D in the NFL, don't expect a big day from Michael Turner or Jacquizz Rodgers.

Seattle's defense held breakthrough rookie RB Alfred Morris to 80 yards in the Wild Card Round and shows no signs of letting up on Sunday.

This postseason would seem to be Ryan's best chance of winning his first playoff game, but I don't see it happening against Seattle's defense and its offense led by Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.

Seattle's defense over Atlanta's offense on Sunday afternoon.


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