Both the (5-4) Atlanta Falcons and (6-3) Seattle Seahawks will look to keep their playoff hopes alive in a Monday night matchup at CenturyLink Field in Seattle (8:30 PM ET).
With the Seahawks currently holding just a one game advantage over the Falcons for that sixth and final wildcard spot in the NFC, the winner of this contest could be writing their own destiny as far as the rest of the season and their playoff chances go.
For the Atlanta Falcons, it’s really been a tale of two seasons. The runner ups from the 2016 Super Bowl, one that Atlanta would like to forget, the Falcons opened the year with early success. Atlanta went 3-0 to start the year, doing so with wins over the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, two of which came on the road.
The success was short-lived however as the Falcons lost back-to-back home games before their Super Bowl rematch against the New England Patriots. Atlanta lost this one too, 23-7, bringing their losing streak to three, and creating a larger distance between themselves and the NFC South leading New Orleans Saints.
Atlanta brought their losing skid to an end with a road game against the New York Jets in week eight of the season, and followed this up with another victory, this time against the Dallas Cowboys in week 10. The victory was important because it helped the Falcons pass the Cowboys in the wildcard race to put them just one game back of that final wildcard playoff spot.
The Seahawks opened their season with a loss and followed it up by losing two of their first three before turning it around. Seattle got back to its winning ways when they took on the Indianapolis Colts in week four, dominating their opponents by a score of 46-18.
This was the first of Seattle’s four-game winning streak which included a victory over the current NFC West leading LA Rams. It was a statement win for the Seahawks, who enter this game against the Falcons on a hot streak, having won five of their last six.
Can Seattle Overcome Recent Injuries?
The Seahawks emerged victorious last week in their game against the Arizona Cardinals but the win was not 100 percent something to be celebrated. That’s because during the game, one of the top defensive backs in the league and the anchor for Seattle’s top defense, went down with an injury and is now expected to miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The injury is devastating to Seattle’s playoff chances but may not have been insurmountable. While Sherman was the foundation of that defense, he wasn’t alone and with the rest of the Legion of Boom still taking the field, there was optimism that Sherman’s injury wouldn’t be life or death.
Then the Seahawks got dealt another and equally devastating blow when it was announced that fellow Legion of Boom member Kam Chancellor would likely miss the season as well due to a neck injury he has been dealing with for a few weeks.
Without Sherman and Chancellor, the heart of Seattle’s defense is gone and it’s hard to believe that the team will be anywhere near as much of a defensive threat going forward. Life without Sherman and Chancellor seems pretty bleak, especially given how needed both of those men are for the team’s tough schedule left this season. Seattle still has to play the NFL leading Philadelphia Eagles, the AFC South leading Jacksonville Jaguars and the Rams again.
Monday night will be the first game in over three years that either Chancellor or Sherman isn’t taking the field. It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks adjust and how well the replacements can respond to the challenge.
Stats That Could Influence Our Picks
- The Falcons are 11-5 SU but just 1-5 ATS in their last 16 games.
- The total has played to the over in 16 of Atlanta’s last 23 games.
- Seattle is just 2-4 ATS in their last six games at home.
Our Preview’s Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks Betting Predictions
While their defense has always been the main talking point in Seattle, the Seahawks are also bolstered by a strong offensive unit that this year begins and ends with quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle’s running game has still not really gotten going but that hasn’t stopped Wilson from having great success as a passer this year.
The 28-year-old Wilson, now in his sixth year in the league, is having his best season from a passing perspective. Over the last four weeks, Wilson has thrown for 11 touchdowns and has topped 300 yards in two of those four. Entering this game, Wilson is actually second among all quarterbacks when it comes to passing yards, sitting just behind Tom Brady.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan and top receiver Julio Jones must be salivating over the prospect of not having to contend with a defensive backfield of both Sherman and Chancellor. Atlanta’s QB/WR duo is has been one of the most proficient in the league over the past several years and with the weakened Seattle backfield, both could be in for a big day through the air.
On the season, Jones has yet to catch more than 10 passes in a single game and only has the one touchdown, both of which are uncharacteristic for him. Without Sherman to contend with, this could be Jones’ breakout game of the season, especially since Atlanta likely will rely on the pass given their own injury concern with running back Devonta Freeman.
Looking at the betting odds, the Seahawks, despite the injuries, are still favorites at home on the spread, predicted by the top American sportsbooks to beat the Falcons by around two points. Seattle’s success at home during the Pete Carroll coaching era is something that cannot be understated. CenturyLink has become one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play and it won’t be easy for Atlanta on Monday either.
- That being said, it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks will be able to get by defensively in this, their first week without two of their top backs. For that reason, take the Falcons to best the spread, claiming victory on the road. The best current option is Atlanta + 2pts @ -110 with Bovada.
- Look for the total to top the over/under, which is set mainly at 45.5pts, given that this game could become more about offense than defense. Go over 45pts @ -110 with Bookmaker.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.