There’s a lot to like about this matchup for Atlanta. Can they take advantage?
Even the world’s best golfers know that not each hole on a golf course should be approached as an opportunity to improve their scores. Some holes are meant to be survived, while others present excellent birdie opportunities. That’s what the Falcons have for the first time this season, a birdie opportunity on the next hole.
We didn’t quite know what to expect from either team in Week 1, but it’s safe to say the Falcons were not the favorites. Nor were they the favorites on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions. In Vegas’s eyes, the Falcons are still the underdog, but only by a point, and only because of the home-field advantage that Seattle enjoys.
Screw that. The Falcons are the better team in this matchup. They’ve had plenty of ups and downs to start this season, but they’ve been weirdly consistent for a team that could be described in such a way. According to TruMedia, the Falcons have a higher successful offensive play rate than any other team in the NFL, and they have gained at least 4 yards on 61 percent of their first downs, which is also best in the league.
They are moving the ball on offense, and they’ve done so against two decent defenses. The Seahawks are no longer a defense of that caliber. Seattle ranks 24th in both total and third-down defense, but they are only allowing 21.5 points per game and rank second in red-zone defense, an area that will likely play a huge role on Sunday.
Still, the Falcons have multiple ways to attack a defense with few established impact players now that Jamal Adams is done for the year. And let’s not forget (how could we?) that Atlanta has yet to unleash its top offensive weapon, Kyle Pitts.
Defensively, this is also a matchup that should favor Atlanta. Geno Smith leads all NFL quarterbacks with a completion percentage of 81 percent, but he is 32nd with an average of 5.22 air yards per pass attempt. That indicates that he’s good at taking what the defense gives him, but when the offense has been blanked for the last six quarters, that’s not good enough.
Seattle also has two rookie tackles protecting Smith. They’ve held up pretty well so far, but Atlanta is likely to test them early and often. Given that the Falcons should theoretically match up well against the Seahawks’ best offensive weapons – receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, as well as running back Rashaad Penny – the path to victory in this one seems fairly clear cut.
If the Falcons are able to build an early lead in the first half like they were against New Orleans, the Seahawks have not proven they have the offensive capability this season to mount a strong comeback. There are a lot of things to like about this matchup for Atlanta, which is the first time we’ve been able to say that in 2022.
Now, can the Falcons sink the putt or will this go down as a missed opportunity?