If my Atlanta Falcons are to shake the notion they are perpetual playoff choke artists, they must avenge a terrible loss from week 6. Atlanta can also do the entire League a favor, and dismiss the Seattle Seahawks from the postseason.
The Seahawks have gone from a cuddly underdog story a few years ago, to a team that is hated by many across the nation. And while NFL refs seem to be loading up on free Microsoft stock every time the Hawks get away with murder on the field, most Americans outside of Washington want Seattle out of the hunt.
So Atlanta can kill two birds with one stone next weekend:
– Erase their own stigma of being the Dirty Birds of choke city.
– Kill any possibility the rodents of the sea make it to a third Super Bowl in four years.
Seattle finally finished off Detroit in their Wild Card matchup after the Lions kept the game close much of the way. The no-call on the endzone facemask by Seattle wideout Paul Richardson was an enormous moment in a game with very little scoring until the last ten minutes.
26-6 was the final in that one, a game Seattle should have won. Yet the game was much closer than the score would indicate.
The #2 seeded Falcons will be well rested after getting a first round bye. They will wait comfortably at home as the Hawks travel 2634 miles for the game.
Atlanta made the trip west last time in the regular season, after getting a huge confidence-building win in Denver the week before.
To Seattle’s credit, they held Atlanta under 30 points in the game.
Actually, Matt Ryan’s crew only managed three points in the first half. The 21-point explosion in the third quarter by the ATL offense showed their true colors, though.
Seattle went on to get the win 26-24 after Russell Wilson brought his team back to retake the lead late in the fourth. Ryan was on his way to his own fourth quarter heroics when the refs refused to throw a flag on Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas III as they dragged Julio Jones down on a long ball fourth down play.
No sense in the Falcons bringing up bad calls by rich Microsoft stockholders dressed in stripes. I’ll keep doing that for them.
Atlanta simply needs to focus on themselves as they get another shot at one of the five teams they defeated them this season. Atlanta also dropped games to the:
Seattle’s losses came to the:
(Seattle also had a tie with Arizona)
As you can see from both teams’ losses, they are subject to letdowns against bad teams. But how the Seahawks lost to the Rams, I have no clue. And they were obliterated by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in week 13. A team Atlanta beat in a shootout in week 8.
As I see it, this divisional playoff game will come down to one thing. Protecting the quarterback. Whichever team does that better will get the win.
I don’t expect the Falcons defense to get 6 sacks on the slippery Russell Wilson. But they better let him know they have a pulse. They must lay hands on him early and often.
Matt Ryan was sacked four times in the first meeting. Wilson just once.
These two teams have met before in the playoffs of course. Their epic divisional playoff matchup back in 2013 was the last year Atlanta saw the postseason.
Here in 2017, these two teams are much different than those that met four years ago. Seattle was just beginning their rise to the top of the League. While Atlanta had the best record in the NFC.
Now Seattle is trying to hang on to its declining dominance.
Atlanta is trying to make a one-year turnaround from the disappointing first year from Dan Quinn, who of course came from Seattle.
Once again though the Falcons have the home field advantage. And while the Hawks have a ton of swagger left, they are not the Beast Mode team they were when they were upsetting Denver in the Super Bowl and one yard away from beating New England the year after in the big dance.
Last year it was Carolina who knocked Pete Carroll’s team from the postseason.
Those Panthers of 2015 poured it on early in that contest, but Wilson and company did mount a failed comeback in the second half.
One thing we know about second-year Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is that he promotes an aggressive style on offense. So look for Matt Ryan to keep slinging it all over the field even if they jump to an early lead.
The Dirty Birds quarterback remembers what Wilson almost did in their first playoff meeting.
As for the rest of the Falcons, they’ve still got a bad taste in their mouths from the regular season loss up in Seattle.