Heading into last Sunday’s Week 4 matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons, not much was expected from the home team. The Seahawks were six-point underdogs despite being at home and were written off against a Falcons team that sported the NFC’s best regular-season record last season.
The games are played on the field and not on paper, though, and Pete Carroll’s boys almost pulled off the upset against one of the elite teams in the league—or did they?
Is Atlanta really an elite team?
This is the same Falcons team that was thoroughly beaten by what appears to be an average Chicago Bears team in their season opener and then lost again in Week 3 against Tampa Bay. In fact, their only win of the season prior to Week 4 came at home against a Philadelphia Eagles squad that we now realize isn’t so hot themselves. Not only that, but the Falcons were generally outplayed in that game and were saved by an injured Michael Vick leaving the game, which propelled them to a lucky victory.
So, when you look at it that way, this Falcons team has looked more like the shell-shocked squad that was demolished at home in the NFC divisional round to Green Bay than the team that won 13 games last season.
Maybe the performance by the Seahawks on Sunday shouldn’t be viewed as a moral victory or a building block, like some are suggesting.
No one thought the Seahawks defense could replicate its performance against the Arizona Cardinals for a second straight week and it didn’t. However, Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense had been very average before last Sunday’s game and needed a 412-yard performance against Seattle just to improve to the No. 12 ranking in team offense.
Meanwhile, Arizona has averaged only eight yards less than Atlanta per game through four weeks of play, so I fail to see how you can take any sort of positive out of how Seattle’s defense performed.
As for the Seahawks offense, it looked much better in Week 4 and even the biggest of pessimists can’t ignore the 319-yard, three-touchdown effort by Tarvaris Jackson. The only problem for Jackson and the Seahawks is that they won’t be operating at home against Atlanta’s 21st-ranked defense every week. Instead, they’ll have to put up similar numbers in New York against a Giants squad that has a better defense and will put much more pressure on Seattle’s fragile offensive line.
In other words, Jackson had better be prepared to scramble and throw on the run a lot more than he did against the Falcons. We know he’s capable of doing this, but he hasn’t proven he can be very effective while doing it. He also has to do it for 60 minutes, which is something he didn’t even do last week in his best performance of the season.
Maybe the Seattle Seahawks appeared to challenge one of the top teams in the NFL on paper last Sunday, but the reality is that they merely performed better in some areas while they took a step backwards in others against a team that isn’t as good as you might think. Sure, they can build on the areas where they improved, but at the end of the day this team isn’t good enough to only play well on one side of the ball for one half and expect to beat anyone in this league.
The fact they even came as close as they did last weekend without a complete effort should tell you more about their opponents than it does about them, and that’s nothing to build on, if you ask me.