With the final Wild-Card game concluding, we finally know the matchups for the divisional round in both the NFC and the AFC.
Most importantly for the Atlanta Falcons, they now know that they must play host to the Seattle Seahawks at 1 P.M. next Sunday.
I don’t know that the Seahawks showed anything different in Washington than what they’ve been doing all season long. They played extremely physically, they were very solid in the secondary, they ran the heck out of the ball, and they allowed Russell Wilson to make some plays happen.
This is going to be one tough, tough matchup for the Falcons, a team who was not exactly outstanding against the run int he regular season (21st in the NFL, surrendering 123.2 YPG on the ground). They’ll be facing that outstanding Seahawks rushing attack, which ranked 3rd in the NFL, and rushed for over 160 yards per game.
It’s going to be one heck of a task containing Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and the ‘Hawks run game. But if you pen them all up and don’t bring down the ball-carrier, Wilson can still hurt you with his arm. It’s a dangerous proposition.
Atlanta also has to offset the Seattle pass-rush with the run game (they need to muster some sort of rushing attack!). The Seattle defensive line is really big and strong, and the Falcons aren’t just going to maul Seattle in one-on-one matchups up front. They need to be creative to get that line worried about something other than just getting after Matt Ryan in the pocket.
The final interesting matchup will be Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez vs. an extremely physical Seattle secondary. The Falcons have an outstanding receiving corps, one that is big, fast, and physical, but Seattle has the pieces to take away that advantage from Atlanta. It will be critical for Jones and White to get some sort of separation. I think Gonzalez will be a huge factor in the passing game for Atlanta.
The other NFC matchup will be Saturday, and will feature the third seeded Green Bay Packers traveling to the second seeded San Francisco 49ers.
The AFC matchups will be (1) Denver Broncos hosting (4) Baltimore Ravens, and (2) New England Patriots hosting (3) Houston Texans.