Sports Out West

Seahawks vs. Falcons preview: Seattle looks to get back on track

Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch leaps to try and avoid a tackle from cornerback Leonard Johnson in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 27-24 in overtime. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Entering the season, the Seattle Seahawks’ Week 10 tilt with the Atlanta Falcons looked to be one of the most anticipated – and difficult – matchups on the schedule.

Fast forward two months, and the rematch of last year’s thrilling NFC Divisional Round game has lost some of its luster. Devastated by injuries, the Falcons sit at 2-6 and are one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL.

On paper, Seattle should win this one comfortably. Of course, the Seahawks were heavily favored in their past two games, and don’t exactly have the best track record with 10:00 a.m. start times. Even if this game ends up being closer than the records would indicate, the big key will be if Seattle can address some of the concerns that have emerged over the past couple of weeks.

The Seahawks will be able to put points on the board. Atlanta is below league average in both passing and rushing defense, and has given up 27.3 points per game.

A veteran Falcons’ secondary (aside from rookie and former Washington Husky Desmond Trufant) has struggled much more than anticipated. But the ground game is where the Seahawks will pick up their yards. Atlanta has been forced to start rookies Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow at the outside linebacker position, which Marshawn Lynch and company should be able to take advantage of if the Seahawks don’t mysteriously get away from running the ball like they did Week 8 against the St. Louis Rams.

 Once again, the most important thing will how the offensive line plays. The Falcons only have 14 sacks on the year, but Osi Umenyiora and Jonathan Babineaux have the ability to disrupt an offense. Center Max Unger might not be able to play again due to a concussion, so Russell Wilson will probably have to withstand a lot of pressure yet again.

Offensively, the Falcons have been severely limited by injuries at the wide receiver position. Leading receiver Julio Jones is out for the year, and Roddy White has missed a significant amount of time. White will play for the first time in a month this week, but who knows if he’ll be back at full capacity. At least his trash-talking with Richard Sherman should be entertaining.

Two straight weeks, the Seahawks have been gashed on the ground by two rushing attacks ranked near the bottom of the NFL. Atlanta enters the game dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Seattle’s rush defense simply needs to show improvement this week.

Expect another slow start from the Seahawks in the Eastern time zone, but Seattle should be able to use Lynch to effectively control the game on the ground. A 10-14 point win would help the Seahawks regain just a bit of momentum as a key stretch quickly approaches.

News Roundup:

-Unger and defensive end Red Bryant were undergoing concussion protocol earlier in the week, and their status remains unknown.

-Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung participated in limited practice this week, but it will probably be at least two more weeks for both of them to return to game action.

- Head Coach Pete Carroll said the offense line will rotate often this week, with Alvin Bailey getting involved more.

Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press


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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.