The last time the two teams met was in the divisonal round of the playoffs last season, with the Atlanta Falcons earning their first playoff victory under the current regime by defeating the Seattle Seahawks 30-28.
Sunday’s matchup could be quite different.
This season, the two teams are heading in two opposite directions: Atlanta has lost four of its last five, and Seattle boasts an 8-1 record, having won four straight.
The Falcons (2-6) have already lost twice as many games as they lost last season, when they secured the number one seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record.
Matt Ryan, who signed a five-year, $103.75 contract extension back in July, has recently become a primary reason for the Falcons’ woes.
Atlanta was routed in its last two games (both on the road against the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers), losing by a combined total of 61-23. In those games, Ryan has thrown just two touchdown passes to seven interceptions.
Over the first six games, Ryan threw 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
If the Falcons want to turn the season around, Ryan has to play much, much better.
That turnaround may not happen this week, though, as the Falcons host the Seahawks, who boast the league’s second-ranked defense.
While Seattle’s passing defense – led by the trash-talking Richard Sherman who has made it clear he isn’t a fan of Roddy White – is ranked second in the league, the rushing defense is ranked 19th and has looked vulnerable over the past two games, giving up 158 yards and 134 yards to rookies Mike James and Zac Stacy, respectively.
However, Atlanta’s running game is ranked dead last in the league, and will likely be unable to take advantage of the Seahawks’ rush defense taking a few steps back.
Seattle’s passing offense hasn’t been lights out – it ranks 27th in the league – and Atlanta has been getting good play from rookies Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant. The Seahawks have also had trouble protecting Russell Wilson, so there’s a slight chance the Falcons could feast on the porous offensive line.
The Falcons should expect a large dosage of Marshawn Lynch regardless of how the passing game performs. With Atlanta being ranked 20th against the run, this matchup could spell trouble.
There’s a good chance Atlanta gets blown out for the third straight time. Although the Seahawks have looked a bit vulnerable, they’re still a much better team than the Falcons at this juncture.
Points Scored: 22.0 (18th)
Total Offense: 353.6 (12th)
Passing Offense: 289.2 (5th)
Rushing Offense: 64.4 (32nd)
Points Allowed: 27.2 (26th)
Total Defense: 364.9 (21st)
Passing Defense: 248.6 (19th)
Rushing Defense: 116.2 (20th)
Points Scored: 25.8 (10th)
Total Offense: 347.8 (13th)
Passing Offense: 200.8 (27th)
Rushing Offense: 147.0 (5th)
Points Allowed: 16.6 (3rd)
Total Defense: 296.0 (2nd)
Passing Defense: 179.8 (2nd)
Rushing Defense: 116.2 (19th)