Now that the wildcard round has been decided, we know that the Ravens, Packers, Texans and Seahawks are moving on to the next round. More on the first 3′s matchups later. For right now let’s talk about the Seahawk’s matchup with my beloved Falcons.
This game excites me not just cause I’m a Falcons fan and because I’ve grown to really like the Seahawks players through the web series “Real Rob Report” but because this contest promises to be a battle of the big boys. By big boys, I mean physical players with the size to match their aggressiveness.
I said at the beginning of the season, and I still say now, that the Falcons have the most talented receiving core in professional football. Roddy White and Julio Jones are both tall and ripped. Both take pride in their blocking abilities and perform in double coverage as well as anyone else in the league to use a Grudenesque phrase. I also count Jaquizz Rodgers who works miracles in space as part of that talented “receiving” core in addition to TE Tony Gonzalez who, in his last year, hasn’t slowed down and is still a tough matchup for any defensive back. Michael Turner, the weakest link, is still a powerful player when he wants to be and has used his boulder body to get in the end zone 11 times this season in short yardage situations.
On the other side of the ball, Seattle boasts 3 defensive backs that stand above 6’2. Where the Falcon’s secondary calls itself “Pick Squad” Seattle’s starting corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner) and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor refer to themselves as the “Legion of Boom” due to their physical style of play. They love to make contact. And they love to brag about it. Sherman ended the season with a top ranking from Pro Football Focus and as a leader in passes defended (Asante Samuel ended the year in 5th place for PDs, just so you know!).
What I notice most about the Seahawks over the season is how physical the entire team is on both sides of the ball. Marshawn Lynch, of course, has been stomping on opposing fans’ feelings for years now. But, as you saw if you watched the game against the Redskins, their tiny QB Russell Wilson both runs and run blocks with reckless abandon. And slightly built WRs Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate (who was fined earlier in the year for an illegal
hit block ) also like to hit defenses in the mouth and this will be a good time for the Falcons new look/new attitude secondary to show a national audience that they ain’t never scared. But more importantly, the Falcons cannot allow Sidney Rice too deliver a big game.
The Seahawks will need Bruce Irvin to step up since Chris Clemons will be out (he tore his ACL on Fed Ex’s terrible field). They will also need to get Lynch going early and so that the Falcons D cannot remain singularly focused on Wilson and the receiving core. Both teams must resist succumbing to the slow starts that can plague both squads. Seahawks will have to cut down on mistakes as the Falcons have the least amount of accepted penalties and yards of any team through 16 games. The Falcons offensive line must hold up vs. the run and the defense must remain focused on turnovers.