Seahawks vs. Falcons: Keys to Victory for No. 1-Seeded Atlanta

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IJanuary 12, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals at Georgia Dome on November 18, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the road to the Super Bowl going through the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Falcons can’t choke against the Seattle Seahawks.

Doing so would be absolutely disastrous for the morale of the franchise, especially considering that its  franchise quarterback, Matt Ryan, has yet to win a playoff game.

Here’s what the Falcons must do to avoid an upset on Sunday.


Prevent Marshawn Lynch from Going Beast Mode

As well as Russell Wilson has played this season, Marshawn Lynch is the driving force behind the Seahawks’ offense. The 5’11”, 215-pound back had a career year, rushing for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.0 yards a pop. His 132-yard rushing performance against the Washington Redskins on Wild Card Weekend was the fifth straight time he’s eclipsed the century mark on the ground.

Lynch showed two years ago in Seattle’s miraculous playoff win over the New Orleans Saints that he’s capable of completely taking over a game. Atlanta’s defense must prevent that from happening.

The Falcons only field the 21st-ranked run defense in the NFL, but from Week 6-16, only one running back was able to rush for more than 100 yards against them. If they hold Lynch to under 100, they’ll be well on their way to victory.


Win the Downfield Battle

Whichever team wins the matchup between the Falcons' receivers and Seahawks' secondary will win the game. That matchup features six Pro Bowlers: Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez of the Falcons and Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas of the Seahawks.

Matt Ryan has never had a running game more ineffective than the one he has behind him right now. It’ll be completely up to him to move the football. But with White, Jones and Gonzalez, he has the receivers to do so.

He must be extremely careful not to throw the ball to Sherman, Browner and Thomas, who have combined for a whopping 15 interceptions this season.

If Ryan plays up to his potential, Atlanta will win this matchup and advance to the NFC Championship.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.