By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
Falcons vs. Seahawks
Because of their recent playoff flops, the Falcons didn’t always receive a lot of accolades from national media this season, even as they posted the NFL’s best record. But Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson, the former Cowboys coach, is among those who believe the Falcons are finally ready to win a playoff game after going 0-3 in the past four seasons.
“I think a lot of it is that, not just the fans, but the coaches and players said ‘Let’s do what we have to do to get ready for the playoffs,’” Johnson said on a Wednesday conference call. “I think during the season there was a lull there. They had a pretty good run, they had a good record and they knew they’d be in the playoffs, so they were like, ‘Let’s hurry up and get to the playoffs.
“Now I think, especially with the bye — even though they’ve got a bear of a team with Seattle, as hot of a team as there is in the league — I think Atlanta will be ready for this ballgame. I think they will be better prepared for these playoffs than anytime previously.”
There were nearly 7,000 tickets to the game available at major reseller StubHub.com Wednesday afternoon, and fans who hold out might be able to get a bargain later in the week.
TiqIQ, a company that aggregates the resale ticket market, reported relatively weak demand for the game. According to TiqIQ, the average price of $163.69 for the game as of late Wednesday was the lowest of this weekend’s playoff games and the lowest-priced second-round game since at least 2009.
When the Falcons faced the Packers in the second round of the 2010 playoffs, the average ticket price was $284.73, according to TiqIQ.
View from Seattle
Are the Seahawks a tough, physical team that wears out its opponents, or do they have too much attitude and cross the line?
Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer takes the former view and says the Seahawks have developed an identity against their opponents, with the attitude to “take them to a point they’re unwilling to match.”
“More than athleticism, more than skill, more than desire, the Seahawks are defined by their toughness,” Brewer writes. “They aim to take every football game to a physical and mental brink. Can the opponent go there? Or rather, will the opponent go there? …
“They’re coming straight at you, at maximum speed, again and again and again. Can you match it? Will you match it?”
But Eric D. Williams, writing for The (Tacoma) News Tribune, writes: “(The) Seahawks have steadily gained notoriety around the league as a team that likes to trash talk and play physical to the whistle — sometimes through the whistle. And that aspect of Seattle’s play was evident in the Seahawks’ big road win against Washington in the NFC Wild Card game Sunday.
Cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, along with receiver Golden Tate, all had running battles with Redskins players. Sherman could be heard by Washington players telling Redskins coach Mike Shanahan that he was scared to throw his way. …
Browner body-slammed Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon at the end of Earl Thomas’ interception in the second quarter. … But Seattle finished with only four penalties for 30 yards, so (coach Pete) Carroll said his team handled those minor dust-ups.”
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