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Seahawks-Falcons: 5 Burning Questions

Posted Jan 11, 2017

Here are five questions we have answered that will get you set as the Falcons get ready to take on the Seahawks on Saturday

How different is this Seattle team on the road?

Earning a home game in the Divisional Round is an advantage for the Falcons. More so than most people realize. Not only is it an opportunity to play in front of the fans who helped the team get to this position, it’s also a chance to knock off a Seattle team that is not the same force on the road that they are at home.

Seattle is 3-4-1 on the road this year, averaging just 15.6 points per game away from CenturyLink Field. Including the playoff game against Detroit, they were 8-1 at home.

And history is on the side of the home team in the Divisional Round. Dating back to 1990, when the NFL went to the current 12-team format, the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds have gone 16-49 in the Divisional Round. The No. 2 seeds, on the other hand, have gone 40-12 in that same round.

How different is Seattle’s defense without Earl Thomas?

There’s no denying that when Seattle’s 5-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas went down in Week 13, the Seahawks defense would be impacted.

So how different is this defense without Thomas?

According to Yahoo, in the Seahawks first 11 games with Earl Thomas on the field, Seattle allowed 10 passing touchdowns. In Seattle’s final five games, they allowed six, and haven’t recorded an interception since Thomas was injured.

How do the Falcons match up against Thomas Rawls, Seattle’s run game?

The Seahawks had struggled to run the ball consistently this season. Their ground game finished the regular season ranked 25th in the NFL. But Thomas Rawls ran wild last weekend, racking up 161 yards in the Seahawks’ Wild Card win over the Detroit Lions. Of the 161 yards, 72 occurred after contact.

Against a running back who possesses the ability to extend plays like Rawls can, tackling well will be key, and it’s something that head coach Dan Quinn stresses on a weekly basis.

The Falcons have only allowed two 100-yard rushers this season (Mark Ingram and Ryan Matthews).

How healthy is the team?

The Falcons had every player on the active roster practicing in some capacity, Quinn said Tuesday. The bye week gave the team an extra weekend of rest, something the Falcons needed with Robert Alford and Vic Beasley Jr. getting nicked up in the final home game.

TE Austin Hooper is also back on the field after suffering a knee injury, missing Atlanta’s final two regular-season games. The rookie showed the impact he’s capable of making when he had eight catches for 87 yards and one touchdown in the Falcons’ Week 8 and 9 contests.

How much has Atlanta’s offensive line improved since the last meeting?

When the Falcons last faced the Seahawks, Matt Ryan was sacked four times. The Seahawks were one of the league’s best in affecting opponents’ quarterbacks this season, recording 42 sacks on the year.

Atlanta has been able to play with the same starting offensive line all season, and their continuity with one another is showing. Since the October matchup, the Falcons have only allowed four sacks one other time, against Carolina.