Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010, 4:05 p.m. ET
Line: Atlanta (-7)
The Atlanta Falcons are the best and hottest team in football today, as far as standings are concerned. They are 11-2 this season, and have won their last seven games. Both of their losses have come on the road. Will Seattle be able to throw a wrench in Atlanta’s plan to win-out and clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs?
The Seattle Seahawks are usually dangerous at home, but they have been anything but dangerous at any venue this season. They have only had two games this season that didn’t result in a double digit loss for someone.
The Seahawks have been on the losing end of seven double-digit losses this season. They are 1-2 in their last three home games and while they may be in first place, if they should make it into the playoffs, they will be limping into it.
Keys to the Game
- There may be no such thing as a sure thing, but if there were, it could be Michael Turner rushing for his eighth 100-yard game this season. He is going up against a soft Seattle front-seven and should see little resistance. Turner has the ability to dominate teams. The Seahawks are vulnerable and the Falcons will likely try to get their ground game going behind Sam Baker early and often.
- Chris Clemons has joined the 10-sack club this season. It is going to be interesting to see if teams start cheating pass protection towards his side. It’s hard to say he is dominating the line of scrimmage, but it is equally difficult to argue with the production he is putting up. In the Pete Carrol defense, there was always a defensive end like Clemons in the USC defense. It appears as though he has found that type of guy in Seattle for the next few years.
- Roddy White might not be in a slump, but he isn’t dominating the way he was through the first part of the season. Even last week against Carolina, he was kept relatively quiet. The Seahawks will likely pull a safety to help out in zone coverage, but Earl Thomas is needed against the run, as well. The Seahawks rank towards the bottom of the league in pass defense, so you can expect White to get back on track this week.
- Mike Williams is the one guy the Falcons have to keep an eye on when they take on the Seahawks. Williams has been injured lately, but has the potential to break for a huge game, having three games of over 100 yards this season. The Falcons can afford to let Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett have an above average day, but letting Williams break loose could allow the Seahawks to remain competitive.
Russel Okung vs. John Abraham
- John Abraham has 11 sacks this season. He has five in his last four outings and is a huge part of the pass rush in Atlanta. Abraham will likely get to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, as the only thing standing in his way is rookie left tackle Russel Okung. Okung slipped in the draft, as he was the highest tackle projected but not the first one taken. He will be in the fight of his life when he goes up against Abraham. It is important that he realizes that one sack is unlikely to change the game. It is when Abraham starts accruing multiple sacks, as he has done four times this season.
This game has blowout written all over it. The Seahawks might be fighting for their playoff lives, but they have no fight in them. Not only do I think the Seahawks will lose by more than the given spread at Qwest field, I think it could be a 17-point massacre. The Falcons could very well be on their way to a Super Bowl, and the Seahawks are a minor bump in the road.
Free NFL Pick: Atlanta (-7)