Welcome to the second weekend of the NFL playoffs, also known as the Divisional Round! With the Wild Card Round in the books, the field has been narrowed from 12 to eight. All eight teams will be in action this weekend, with two games on Saturday, January 14th, and two more on Sunday, January 15th. The first of those games will be held at 4:35 pm EST on Saturday, and will see the Seattle Seahawks travel to Georgia to take on the Atlanta Falcons. The Seahawks enter the contest as the three seed in the NFC, following a victory at home last week against the Detroit Lions. Their opponents, the Falcons, hold the two seed and had the luxury of having last week off.
The big question as we enter this game is, which Seahawks team is going to show up? As we progressed through this season, I was not very convinced that Seattle was one of the premier teams in the NFC. They were often very inconsistent, looking sharp one week only to be total garbage one week later. The common variable that often helped determine which form of the team would show up in a given week was whether the team was home or on the road. At home, they were often unbeatable. But on the road, they were far less convincing.
As for the Falcons, they possess one of the premium offenses in the NFL. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones were one of the top quarterback-wide receiver combos in the whole league in 2016. The club knows how to put the ball in the end zone, both through the air and on the ground. Their biggest weakness comes in the form of their defense, which simply put, is not all that great.
So we will likely have a top notch offense against a solid defense, with a decent offense taking on a sub-par defense. When the Falcons have the ball, they will certainly have the edge, even with a pretty good Seattle defense. Their defense has not been the same since they lost safety Earl Thomas, and Matt Ryan will find some holes. On the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson and the offense will be able to muster a few drives against the poor defense. But at the end of the day, I do not think their offense will be able to keep up with the high-octane Falcons offense. As a result, the Falcons will come out on top and be only one more win away from a trip to the Super Bowl.
The winner of this game will take on the winner of the Green Bay Packers vs Dallas Cowboys game. If the Cowboys win their game, they will host that game. The winner of this game would get to play at home if the Packers pull off the upset.
Line: Atl -5, O/U: 51.5
Prediction: Falcons 31 – Seahawks 17, Falcons and the under