No doubt today's game is going to be exponentially tougher than last Saturday's 26-6 win over Detroit. This Falcons team has more stars playing on another level anyone on Detroit, and we bet on them being coached up well since our former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is at the helm. Not to mention the game is being held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Don't expect this Falcons D to be pushed around by our offensive line, because no, we did not have a break through. Rather last week was a perfect alignment of the stars, and there were no All-Pros like Vic Beasley waiting at the second level to plug holes.
Nonetheless establishing the running game will be fundamental in winning this afternoon. Effectively running the ball means eating up clock, which leads to less chances for Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to work their magic that led to Atlanta putting up over 33 points per game this season.
However the over arching goal for Pete Carroll and co. today should be to simply keep it close heading into the fourth quarter - if they can't race out to blowout lead by then of course. That's because the fourth quarter in a Divisional Playoff game is where the intangible variable of "playoff experience" comes into play. This is not the same match up of the 2012 Divisional Round game that was also played in Atlanta, when Russell Wilson was but a rookie and the Legion of Boom was but a phrase barely known outside the Pacific Northwest.
Should it not go according to plan, and the Hawks were to fall into an early two-possession deficit, it's hard to see our season lasting another week. Russell Wilson likely could hang with Matt Ryan in years past, but his 2016 offensive line unit is subpar even for recent Seahawks standards. There is no way Wilson can be as effective as needed if he has to drop back and make at least 35 passes in this game. If his pass attempts get into the 30's that signals that they're playing catch up and will likely yield a result of him getting sacked over five times while being hit or hurried countless more times.
But if they can keep it close, Russell's experience in high-pressure moments and demonstrated ability to make the necessary plays will come out. On the other sideline, Matt Ryan doesn't have that experience, not has he demonstrated that mettle. Russ is underrated at a clutch quarterback, but there is really no other quarterback in this league that pulls wins out of thin air quite like him. Therefore, we should expect a classic finish if we want to play again next week for a chance at playing in Houston.