Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/1/11

          This Sunday the Atlanta Falcons get what most would consider a break in their schedule as they travel to Washington state to take on the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Both teams have started the season at 1-2, with the Falcons coming off a disappointing 13-16 loss to Tampa Bay and the Seahawks coming off a nice 13-10 win over the Cardinals. While the teams share a common record three games into the young 2011 season, it appears that the Falcons have the upperhand talent-wise, but the only way we will know for sure is by watching tomorrow’s game.

            In order for the Atlanta offense to get the job done against Seattle, the offensive line must step up and allow Matt Ryan to get comfortable. “Matty Ice” has played dreary as of late, for the most part due to his linemen’s inability to keep him protected (Ryan has been hit 21 times through 3 games). Ryan’s current turnover stats tell the story of what the weak O-Line has done for his play, as he has already tied his ’10 mark for fumbles (3) and is over one-third of the way to his interceptions (he has 4 so far). The offensive line is the key to the entire offense, and while it does dictate the Michael Turner and the Falcons running game, it will definitely decide how well the team throws the football. If Ryan gets hit less than 4 times against Seattle, expect the former Boston College QB to put up at least 225 passing yards.

                Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder needs to keep his defense ready to stop both Seattle’s weak passing game (30th in the NFL) and running game (29th), primarily in forcing mistakes by Seahawks quarterback Tavaris Jackson. Jackson, the former starting QB of the Minnesota Vikings, hasn’t been a big play-maker for the Seahawks so far, passing for 527 yards (about 176 yards per game) and 2 touchdowns coupled with 2 interceptions and 2 fumbles. Jackson has shown in his brief NFL career that he is prone to make mistakes (26 TDs vs 24 INTs), so putting him in uncomfortable positions is a must. I know it seems like I say the same thing week by week concerning pressure on the quarterback, but it really is a must for any defense, whether they face Tavaris Jackson or Tom Brady. If the Falcons defense can manage at least 2 sacks in this game, expect Jackson to have at least one more turnover than passing touchdowns.

                  Prediction: Seattle’s extremely-weak offense has been the laughingstock of the NFL so far this year, and unfortunately for the home crowd at CenturyLink Field, things won’t get any better for their team against Atlanta. A quick three-and-out by the Seahawks gives Matt Ryan the chance to give the Falcons the lead, which he does on a 13 yard pass to Harry Douglas. Seattle’s offense drops the ball again on their second drive, yet this time it is literally, as running back Marshawn Lynch fumbles on what would have been a first down run to the Atlanta 45. Happy to be given another shot at putting more breathing room between themselves and the Seahawks offense, the Falcons score again, this time on an eight yard run by Michael Turner. Seemingly incapable of getting anything done, the Seahawks start a promising third drive of the game, but it ends with a missed 46-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. Doomed by their early mistakes, the Seahawks work for the rest of the game to just make some progress for next week’s game against the Giants, while the Falcons coast to their second victory of the season. Final Score Falcons 30, Seahawks 13

Stats

Passing: Ryan actually has some protection in this game, throwing for 246 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs.
Rushing:
Michael Turner makes up for last week’s struggles (first game without 100 yards rushing this year), taking 23 carries for 111 yards and 1 touchdown.  
Receiving:
Roddy White builds off his excellent game against Tampa Bay last week, making 7 receptions for 91 yards and 1 touchdown.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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