With the Seattle Seahawks surviving Wild Card Weekend, they’ll travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in the Divisional round of the playoffs. This marks the second time these two teams have met in the postseason, with the Falcons getting the last laugh in a 30-28 home win during the 2012 season.
The Seahawks have made the playoffs the last five seasons, and won the NFC West title for the third time in the past four years. With a big 26-6 win over the Detroit Lions last week, they’ll need that momentum to carry over to prevent the often close-scoring battle they face against the Falcons.
For the first time in a long time, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson played in his Wild Card matchup without needing to wear a knee brace. In large part due to his inability to run for much of the season, Wilson topped the franchise’s single-season passing record with 4,219 yards. He also claims the most games in NFL history (31) with multiple touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first five seasons.
Despite being hit or miss throughout the season, Thomas Rawls was able to make it back on the field for the team’s first playoff game. Rawls was only healthy enough to suit up in nine of the 16 regular season matchups, but his postseason performance included 161 yards and a touchdown — topping Marshawn Lynch’s franchise record.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn will be all too familiar with the strength of Seattle’s defense, having spent four seasons with the team. In 2013-14, Quinn was the Seahawks defensive coordinator, helping them advance to the Super Bowl both seasons, including a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
For a quarterback who often gets overlooked, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan finished the 2016 regular season by setting a franchise record with 4,944 passing yards (No. 2 in the league), marking his sixth season with at least 4,000 passing yards. Ryan was also voted to the 2016 NFL All-Pro Team, edging out the almighty Tom Brady for the honor. He finished the season with a 117.1 passer rating — the fifth-highest in NFL history — and threw a touchdown pass to 13 different targets in 2016, the most in a single season in NFL history.
It’s no surprise that Ryan has been having so much success this season, with wide receiver Julio Jones also breaking records throughout the year. Jones finished second in the league with 1,409 receiving yards, marking his fourth 1,000-plus yard season with the Falcons. The dynamic duo made NFL history, and set franchise single-game records in Week 4 when the Falcons became the first team to have a 500-yard passer and a 300-yard receiver in the same game.
On the other side of the ball, Vic Beasley is having a career season, leading the league with 15.5 sacks. In Week 14 alone, the linebacker recorded three sacks, along with a 21-yard fumble-return touchdown. The Falcons also have linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal, who lead all NFL rookies in tackles with 214 combined. Cornerback Robert Alford boasts 19 passes defended this season.
The last time these two teams faced off was in Week 6 at CenturyLink Field, resulting in a 26-24 win for the Seahawks. They’ve bested the Falcons the last two meetings, and claim the all-time series record (10-6).
How to watch
Time: 4:35 p.m. ET
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver, Peter Schrager