In October, the Atlanta Falcons traveled to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Seahawks in a game which had the time had little implication in the postseason picture. But this Saturday (4.35pm ET) these two teams meet again at the Georgia Dome and on the line is a chance to advance to the NFC conference championship.
The last time the Seahawks and Falcons played, Seattle won 26-24 at home, bringing their record to 4-1 on the season. This was despite Julio Jones burning their defense for 139 yards. Jones aside, Seattle kept Atlanta’s offense, which is one of the best in the NFL, largely in check. Seattle’s own offense was able to take advantage of playing a defense eerily similar to their own, and play one of their most complete, best games of the early season.
Following what would be a playoff preview, both teams went on to have successful seasons with Atlanta emerging to win the NFC South and edge out the Seahawks for the first round bye and Seattle having a strong finish to win the NFC West. As that game showed, these two teams were the real deal and on Saturday, they have another chance to prove it.
Atlanta are the American friendly offshore bookies’ five-point favorites on the spread to win this game. So now we analyze the influences at play that could decide the outcome of this matchup and lead this preview to its ultimate betting predictions and picks for this game.
Can Matt Ryan Find Playoff Success?
Nine years ago, Matt Ryan (pictured) made his debut for the Atlanta Falcons. Always considered to have a great arm and an ability to perform in clutch moments, Ryan helped the Falcons return to being a top team in football following the end of the Michael Vick years. He has always been a competitor and a high-level player, but this year, thanks to the highest scoring offense in football, Ryan stepped up his game big-time.
Overall, Ryan led the NFL in rating (117.1), was second in yards (4,944) and touchdowns (38), and third in completion percentage (69.9). In short, Ryan put up MVP numbers and thanks to his success, returned Atlanta to the playoffs for the first time in 2012 and the fourth time in his career.
However, for as good as Ryan has managed to be in the regular season, he has always been haunted by playoff woes. In his first three attempts, Ryan and the Falcons lost their first game all three years, with the QB not able to top 200 passing yards in a single contest and totaling just three touchdowns compared to four interceptions. That all changed in 2012 however when Ryan got his first and so far only, career playoff win. Perhaps ironically and in a sign of things to come, that win came against none other than Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and the Seattle Seahawks.
Can the Seahawks Continue to Win without Earl Thomas?
Against the Detroit Lions, the Seahawks won easily and Thomas’ absence wasn’t really noticed. However, this defense will be facing a huge test against the Falcons, one that is made even more difficult without one of the NFL’s best safeties on the field.
This secondary has at times seemed lost without Thomas, which they can’t afford to do if they hope to win and advance to the championship game. Atlanta is too good as a deep threat that any holes in the defense could get exploited on Saturday.
This means the pressure is mainly going to fall on Richard Sherman, who will once again be the man responsible for covering Atlanta’s star weapon, Julio Jones. As mentioned earlier in this preview, Jones managed 139 yards and a touchdown against Sherman the first time the two met. There was even a now famous non-call which occurred between the two which could have resulted in Atlanta having the opportunity at a game winning field goal.
Our Preview’s Seattle Seahawks vs Atlanta Falcons Betting Picks & Predictions
Playoff losses aside, the Falcons are a really good team and they look like contenders, not pretenders as they have in the past. Seattle will have their hands full stopping this offense and stopping the presumptive MVP in Ryan. Thomas’ absence could loom large and ultimately, that might be the slight factor that determines which team advances to the NFC Championship next week.
- That being said, this preview’s betting prediction and pick is to take the Seahawks to best the five point spread favored to the Falcons. So bet Seattle +5pts @ -110 with Bovada or BetOnline sportsbooks.
- With regard the total points pick, take the over 51.5pts @ -110 with BetOnline. It is over 52pts @ -105 with Bovada. This game will likely be another shootout.
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.