Fear of the unknown. That’s what springs to mind with the upcoming Monday night football game that see’s the 2016 NFC Champions come to town. The general feeling was good, the Falcons aren’t the same team as their 2016 offering with an offense coordinated by Steve Sarkisian. Then dreaded injuries come into the forefront of my mind, but more on that later. Their defensive line, however, is far from struggling. They sacked Dak Prescott 8 times total in Sundays 27-7 win over the Cowboys. A game won in the trenches is a game won, no less.
Quite simply, I can see this game coming down to which defensive line puts more pressure on the opposing QB. We haven’t really seen the full potential out of the Seahawks D-Line, they get a lot of pressure but can’t take it home with a sack. This is absolutely down to offensive scheming, though, and not an inability. Make no mistakes, the Seahawks defensive line is brutal. Saying this game has the potential for 12+ sacks on both teams is far from optimistic.
The game will have a playoff atmosphere, no doubt. A home game at night, nationally televised? Expect the whole team to show up. Injuries are hurting every team in the NFL at this point in the season, it’s a given. However, this will be the first game without all-world Richard Sherman. Can newly resigned Byron Maxwell cover the left side? Will Jeremy Lane see the majority of snaps? Who knows what the Seahawks plan to do however my money is on Maxwell taking the starting role given his familiarity with the system, I’d expect some linebacker help underneath and some Area29 covering him over the top, we all know Pete’s philosophy of not giving up explosive plays.
With Earl almost definitely helping out Maxwell, though, questions have to be raised over what the likes of WR Mohamed Sanu and TE Austin Davis will do on the other side, both have over 30 receptions each and a total of 6 TD’s on the season.
Kam Chancellor may well be out for this game as well, a brutal hit. Kam is a lifeline for this defense, providing intelligence for his comrades and fear for his foes, I’d be lying if I said our rookie offering at Strong Safety fills me with confidence.
Surely now is the time for the defensive to give the ‘reigns’ to the offense, it’s time for the offensive to bail out the defense, let’s be honest, they’ve earnt it over the years…Russell Wilson will be all too happy to take control of the game and I’d pick nobody else in this league to step up when he’s needed to win a game, I won’t elaborate on his game winning drives since entering the league, rest assured this guy can win games single handily.
The Falcons aren’t without injuries either, their star running back Davonta Freeman will surely be out with a concussion which should force Matt Ryan and company to force the pass, how this translates in game has yet to be determined however there is no doubt Monday’s game will be a good indicator about the severity this passing defense will suffer without Sherman.
Both teams are fighting for the number 1 spot in their respective divisions and this game absolutely will impact seeding once the curtain closes on the regular season. Both teams will be feeling confident coming off last week’s wins, the Seahawks so have some key advantages, though. They haven’t played a game in 11 days, it’s a home game and a primetime game. This all plays into the hands of the team, Vegas has the team as 3 point favourites which given the home field advantage, means the games a toss-up.
I hope the team plans accordingly, they should take a page out of Belichick’s book of wizardry and take away star WR Julio Jones and see what the other receiving corps can do, ultimately this gives defensive ends that extra split second to close in and get Matt Ryan on the ground.
I’m nervous about this game but equally optimistic the team can come away with a win taking them to 7-3. With the Rams travelling to Minnesota to face the Vikings this week could easily see the Seahawks atop the NFC West, exactly where they belong.