The Seattle Seahawks hope to continue a run that has a distinctively "Cinderella" flavor to it when they take on the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome later today. The Falcons (13-3) are the number one seed in the NFC for the second time in three seasons. The last time the Falcons were perched this high, they were summarily dispatched 48-21 by the Green Bay Packers in this very round. The Hawks hope to duplicate the Packers' feat.
Seattle comes into Atlanta today having already won a playoff game on the road. In defeating the Washington Redskins last week, the Hawks took step one toward Super Bowl XLVII, and feel less than intimidated by being a road team in a loud venue. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson displayed calm under pressure and distributed the ball well. Running back Marshawn Lynch was the stalwart that Pete Carroll needed him to be, and the Seattle defense stood up. All three of those factors will need to be in play if the Seahawks are to take down the talented Falcons.
The Falcons run the ball with bruising tailback Micheal Turner and scatback Jacquizz Rodgers. Neither back gained more than 800 yards or managed 4.0 yards per carry.
Where Atlanta really makes their offensive bones is through the air. Quarterback Matt Ryan (nicknamed "Matty Ice") threw for 4719 yards with 32 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. He has three receivers who have caught at least 79 balls in Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, and Julio Jones. The matchup of Atlanta's big strong receiving corps against Seattle's big strong defensive backs will be intriguing to say the least.
Defensively the Seahawks should have the better of it. Seattle is second in the conference in yards allowed per game (306.2) while Atlanta has been a bit more generous (365.6 ypg, good for 12th in the conference).
It will behoove the Hawks offense to win the time of possession on their way to winning the ground attack stats on their way to winning the game. That will be the message that head coach Pete Carroll will impart to his troops before they take the field under the Georgia Dome. Carroll trusts his young quarterback. Carroll sleeps better at night dreaming of Marshawn Lynch in "Beast Mode."
Las Vegas lists the Falcons as a 2 1/2 point favorite. That's a relatively small number given the Falcons lofty record and week off. Take the Birds, give the points, and use the money at LEGOLAND Discovery Center.
Should the Seahawks prevail in Atlanta they will travel to San Francisco for the NFC Championship Game next Sunday. The 49ers beat Green Bay 45-31 Saturday night to advance to the next round.