It’s been a really long time since the Falcons played in the cozy confines of the Home Sweet Georgia Dome and they finish out their grueling 3 week road trip on the other side of the country. Up in the great northwest, the Falcons travel to play the Seattle Seahawks where the Falcons are obviously the favorites being 11-2 and the Seahawks being a game under .500 at 6-7 and getting blown out by the 49ers last week. As always, the Birds will get the ‘Hawks biggest fight because their playoff lives hang in the balance and they get them in one of the hardest places to play in the NFL. Can the Falcons finish off the long road trip and come back home to the warm confines of the Home Sweet Georgia Dome? Six searing questions as the Birds fly northwest………
Any road trip by itself is hard enough in the NFL, let along one that has a team finishing out a 3 week road trip to the northwest corner of the continent. The Falcons will look to beat the jet lag and overall road drowsiness when they suit up against the Seahawks on Sunday in usually dreary and rainy Seattle. The Falcons have taken care of business against their NFC South brethren in Tampa Bay and Charlotte, even if not convincingly. The Falcons absolutely can’t afford to be peeking ahead to the big Monday Night Football game in the Georgia Dome against the defending Super Bowl Champs. The funny thing is, that if they win this game against Seattle, than the Saints game gets a whole lot less meaning since all they would have to do is beat the Panthers in the Georgia Dome to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. None of that matters if they don’t finish strong on the road against the Seahawks. Will the grinding wear of the road and long trip be a factor?
Yes, we’re talking in our major hope that the last two weeks have just been an aberration concerning the run defense. The Run D has been one of the best in the league (usually top 6 or so) since Coach Mike Smith and Co. took over in 2008. Sure, there have been lapses here and there, but overall the run defense has been pretty outstanding, especially this year. Some of the best backs in the league found little success against the Falcons on the ground this year (Mendenhall, S. Jackson, Rice, Gore). So fans have been a little concerned about the last two weeks. First getting pounded by a rookie in LeGarrette Blount in Tampa Bay and then getting gashed by Jonathan Stewart last week in Charlotte. Last week was particularly hard to understand since they not only didn’t have Deangelo Williams in the backfield, but also had no other offensive threat at all. The Birds aren’t running up against Adrian Peterson this week, but Marshawn Lynch is yet another big and bruising running back that can do some damage if given the chance. Justin Forsett has also had his moments as well. They won’t get much credit for shutting down the Seahawks running game, but fans will take any reassurances that the sky isn’t falling in the run defense.
Fans understand the need to not wear something out or give too much away, but when something works, it works. The hurry-up offense isn’t necessarily something that the Falcons coaching staff would want to do because it goes completely against their conservative, ball-control philosophy, but it does seem to work really well. It’s seemingly only used now as a way to jumpstart a comatose offense. After the Panthers stormed down the field to make it 17-7, the Falcons quickly answered with a scoring drive that took 5 plays and 1 minute 37 to march down the field for the touchdown. For a stretch, the Falcons seemed to be throwing more and using the no-huddle more to open up the run lanes, but they’ve obviously gone back to the run first and play-action deal. The Falcons are getting done on offense and who cares how, but this may be a cure to when the Falcons get happy and lax with their lead and let the lull set in. Throw in a no-huddle after a touchdown of their own or a quick turnover.
Really hard to judge against the worst team in the National Football League and most will say, including fans, that the heavy amount of sacks was simply a product of a rookie quarterback and a weak line that is mired in a terrible season. You won’t find many people disagreeing with that point. Kroy Biermann showed up and notched himself 2 sacks along with John Abraham. Maybe they turned some type of corner, even though it’s hard to believe this late in the year, but you never know. The defensive tackle has been getting good and consistent pressure all season long and the defensive ends haven’t really lived up to their promise. Matt Hasselbeck has 12 TDs on the year compared to his 15 INTs, so the defensive line should get their opportunities, but we all know the real test awaits on December 27th in the Georgia Dome. It would be nice to start seeing a repeat performance from the defensive line on a regular basis.
The famed college coach’s ship jump right before the sanctions came down leave a lot to be desired and was a great source of ridicule and disdain from football fans. Even though he claims no wrongdoing, the whole deal reeks of corruption and he comes out with mud on his shirt. All that being said though, its hard to argue that the guy is one hell of a coach. He’s known extremely well for getting his players up to play the “big” games at USC and delivering when it counts most. His problem was always losing to much inferior teams that usually ended up costing him a chance at various BCS titles. Yes, the Seahawks are 6-7, but they are definitively right in the mix of making the playoffs, being tied with the St. Louis Rams for the NFC West division lead. They beat even beat the Chargers and the Bears this season. Carroll will have the Seahawks revved up and ready to go for this game, so the Falcons better not underestimate this team one bit. As the saying goes, “Any Given Sunday.”
-What’s the “real deal” on Spoon: hurt more than let on or just struggling?
-Will the Falcons keep all 5 OL together next year? Should they?
-Will the weather affect the game?
-Should Snelling be suited and playing?
-Can the Falcons actually put a team away….ever?
-How’s it gonna be in the Great Northwest?
-Will the Birds suffer from the grueling trip at end of a 3 week road journey?
-Will the Falcons get caught peeking ahead?
-What’s the deal with our suddenly weak Run D? Please explain
-Could the Hurry-Up be a centerpiece of the O instead of an afterthought? Should it be?
-Just a bad opponent or some life from our DL pressure?
-Will the Seahawks be playing out of their minds or “a spade is a spade?”
-What’s your thoughts on good Ol’ Pete Carroll?
-Is Harry Douglas back for real now?
-What’s your thoughts on the deep ball: not nearly enough or just right?
-Take a shot at the bonus questions