By Charles Jay
For the Seattle Seahawks, it seems to be a recurring story for them to reach the NFL playoffs, and the consistency of their defensive unit has obviously been a major factor in accomplishing that. That defense is going to be tested, and then some, as they travel to the Georgia Dome to play the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional playoff round, beginning at 4:35 PM ET on Saturday. Fox Network will televise it, and BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity to place wagers in real time through the facilities provided by Live Betting Ultra.
This game features Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, who knows quite a bit about his opposite number, Pete Carroll, having served as defensive coordinator for the Seahawks when they made two different Super Bowl trips. So count on him coming up with something creative to throw at Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who, for the most part, has not had the same degree of mobility he has last season. If Wilson can’t move with impunity out of the pocket, that makes it more incumbent upon the Seahawks’ running game to pick up the slack, and they did a great job last week against the Detroit Lions, with Thomas Rawls setting a franchise record for post-season action with 161 yards.
Atlanta averages 33.8 points per game, and there is no question that Matt Ryan has been incredible. He is on a current streak of 137 passes without an interception, and thus he has helped to cure one of his ills from the past. Ryan’s per-attempt average of 9.3 yards indicates that he has the ability to stretch this Seattle defense, so expect that he is going to try and do just that, especially with the Seahawks trying to come up with a solution for the absence of All-Pro safety Earl Thomas.
In the football playoff betting odds posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, Atlanta is favored:
Atlanta Falcons -5
Seattle Seahawks +5
Over 51.5 points -110
Under 51.5 points -110
The Falcons are unusually balanced; Ryan not only can find Julio Jones (76 receptions, 1313 yards), perhaps the finest wide receiver in the game, but they can also complement him quite well, with the likes of Mohamed Sanu and Tyler Gabriel (16.5 yards per catch). Atlanta has a couple of different backs who can not only carry the load but also served as outlets for Ryan. Davonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for almost 2500 yards from scrimmage this season, and so it is no wonder why, if you are watching closely to all the buildup this week, you will hear the phrase “pick your poison” a lot.
Atlanta got off to a bad start, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home in the opening week. But then they went on to defeat the Oakland Raiders, who eventually made it to the AFC playoffs as a wild-card; the New Orleans Saints, and both of last year’s Super Bowl participants – the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, prior to going to CenturyLink Field to play the Seahawks. They fell behind 17-3 but then came up with 21 unanswered points to take the lead. Ultimately, Seattle got a field goal in the last couple of minutes to come away with a 26-24 victory, which also came with some controversy, as Richard Sherman was not flagged for what seemed like an obvious penalty in defending Jones. Atlanta would have put itself into field-goal position if that was called by the officials.
Take note that Atlanta, which was 11-5 straight-up and 10-6 against the football pointspread, also played 13 of its 16 games over the total. Seattle coasted to the NFC West title with a 11-4-1 record in the regular-season, and then held Detroit to 231 total yards in last week’s 26-6 victory at home. They have dropped four of their last five road games against the number.
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