Matt Ryan is forced to sit out with a shoulder injury.  That means this man will be making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Russell Wilson.

Matt Ryan is forced to sit out with a shoulder injury.  That means this man will be making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Russell Wilson.

Seahawks at Falcons: In Search Of…

by @steven_lebron

What has changed about this Falcons team since two years ago, when they had a similarly impressive regular season and failed to keep up with Rodgers’ Packers in the post-season?

Or what has changed since last season, when the Falcons went on the road to play the Giants in the first round and fittingly, dropped a deuce (the Falcons score a safety only in the game) and were embarrassed in consecutive post-seasons.

Sunday’s game is the answer, or at least the start of the answer. For the Falcons to even think about Super Bowls and championship rings, they need to win a playoff game first.

We’ve heard this offense advertised as the best in the league before, everything sounds a bit familiar. The Falcons remind me of Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb’s Eagles, in that it took Philadelphia so many years to get out of the NFC after so many trips to the Conference Finals.

At some point, when you put yourself in a position to host playoff games against inferior opponents, it has to tip the other way, right?

But how inferior are the Seahawks? They showed me a lot last week with their win at Washington, maybe we should stop referring to Russell Wilson as a rookie and just enjoy the ride, and perhaps this defense is an elite unit.

But really, this game comes down to Atlanta. Can we say this is the most important game in franchise history? If they come up short this weekend, it’s going to be an especially long off-season for the Falcons. It would also be their third such off-season in a row.

I think they get over the hump this week.

Falcons win 34-14.

What does everybody think?

Seahawks at Redskins: Fresh Faces

by @steven_lebron

Best game on the board this week, right? I suppose by the time we get to this one on Sunday afternoon, we’ll know if they have to live up to the crazy expectations of the match-ups preceding them.

In a first round where both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are playing, who knew that the most important rookies might just turn out to be Russell Wilson and Alfred Morris.

And does Matt Flynn text Alex Smith, or is it the other way around. Either way, those exchanges must be a downer.

For Washington, they punched a ticket to the post-season with a victory over the Cowboys last week. Or to put it more aptly, Morris did the punching with over 200 yards and three touchdowns. Griffin hasn’t looked his usual dynamic self since coming back from injury, and it does take a bit away from their offense, but if his rookie mate in the back field can put up the same performance against a stout Seattle defense, it may not matter.

As for the Seahawks. They come into the playoffs with a lot of acclaim and buzz. That tends to happen when you start beating teams by scores of 58-0 (granted, it was Arizona), 50-17 (in Toronto against Buffalo, not exactly a frightening proposition) and 42-13 (at home against San Francisco, who were coming off a short week and a tough battle against New England; actually, never mind, this one was impressive, not going to sell them short).

I will say this: if you told me the Seahawks had a bye and would need to win two playoff games at home to make the Super Bowl, I’m not sure if I’d pick anyone else in the NFC. But on the road? Consider me still a skeptic.

This team’s been a wonderful story. Frankly, both teams have been. It’s always nice to see fresh faces in the tournament. One stays. One goes.

The more complete team, and the better defense should make the difference. I just hope this one lives up to the billing.

27-24 Seahawks.

I just picked every favorite this week.

What does everybody else think?