The Seattle Seahawks are set to take on the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 10 matchup on Sunday. It's a rematch of last year's divisional playoff tilt in which the Falcons won 30-28 to advance to the NFC Championship. Atlanta's Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with eight seconds left to win that one.
Another rematch in the playoffs is unlikely, however. The Seahawks are doing well enough -- they're 8-1 atop the entire NFC, but the Falcons are a mess right now, as evidenced by their 2-6 record. Unlike that playoff game, this matchup is heavily slanted in Seattle's favor when it comes to just about every aspect about how both teams are playing.
Let's take a look at both below, starting with the home team:
Meet the Falcons
The fact that they're the home team is about all that's going right at this point for the Falcons. Seattle's lone loss came on the road against the Indianapolis Colts, and not having to play in Seattle and deal with that atmosphere is always a great thing.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is a big reason the team is losing so many games. He's been outright bad this season, and has thrown seven interceptions in his last two games. Ryan went 20-for-27 for 219 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers, but also had three interceptions, including a pick six.
His group of receivers is depleted, as well. Julio Jones is out for the season, and Roddy White, who has a penchant for playing through injuries, is returning from injuries to his ankle and hamstring. It could be a mess on offense.
Meet the Seahawks
Seattle hasn't fielded a particularly strong passing game this season, but why would it need to? The Seahawks feature the league's No. 6 rushing attack at 147 rushing yards per game on average, and have a stout defense. They've got the No. 2 pass defense and No. 20 rushing defense, helping compensate for their No. 27 pass offense.
It would be shocking if the Seahawks didn't come right out running the ball with Marshawn Lynch. They might want to throw it early to force the Falcons into a situation where they're playing from behind, however. That would give plenty of opportunities for Ryan to throw more and more interceptions.
Seattle has tougher matchups in the coming weeks, but the Seahawks face Atlanta and then the Minnesota Vikings before a bye week, so they'll be well rested for them.
Local Takes: Falcons
Jeanna Thomas of The Falcoholic took a look at why the Falcons need to win this game:
1. Because Seattle's record is better than Seattle actually is.
While one can argue only so much with a record of 8-1, especially when the Falcons are sitting at 2-6, it must be acknowledged that Seattle has looked bad against less-than-great teams over the past couple of weeks. The Seahawks beat the Rams by just five points a couple of weeks ago, and that vaunted Legion of Boom defense let the Tampa Bay Buccaneers run up a 21-point lead on them at home last week. A few weeks before, Seattle barely beat the Texans by a field goal in overtime. Are the Seahawks a good team? Yes. Are they one of the best teams in the NFC? Sure. Are they beatable? Definitely.
Local Takes: Seahawks
Over at Field Gulls, they note that explosive plays can be the difference-maker ... offensively and defensively:
The numbers show that this season, the Seahawks are taking Pete Carroll's big play mantra to heart. On offense, they not only generate big plays, they make them count by finishing drives with high-value scores (read: touchdowns). On defense, Seattle limits big plays and doesn't let opponents take advantage when they get them. The Seattle Seahawks are maximizing the explosive play and making the explosive play an important part of their success on offense and defense.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
when there are multiple plays in a game where Marshawn Lynch is hurdling Mike Rob and a crumpled defender, you know the run game is clicking— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) November 4, 2013
Steve Smith saying nice things about Desmond Trufant is the surest sign that the apocalypse is upon us.— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) November 5, 2013
Matt Ryan on whether he's pressing, ``I don't think so. I think I just haven't been playing well.''— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) November 3, 2013
Unsurprisingly, the SB Nation experts were mostly in sync with this matchup. Five of the six picked the Seahawks to win, with Matt Ufford being the lone dissenter. For the full Week 10 picks, go here.
The Seahawks opened up as four-point favorites, but the line widened in their favor throughout the week. Seattle is favored by as much as six points at some sportsbooks, according to Odds Shark.
The Falcons will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road on Nov. 17. Seattle will return home to host the Minnesota Vikings on the same day.