Wow, what a collective dud last week’s wild card games were. All home teams won easily. Now, things get a little trickier (unless you’re the Patriots). Seriously, a 16 point favorite??? I hate New England. Anyway, let’s look to today’s NFC matchup.
Seattle at Atlanta (-4.5), 4:35 p.m.
Can Atlanta finally translate regular season dominance to post-season success? Atlanta won 7 of their last 8 and ran away with the NFC South title, and they did it with the one thing this team has lacked in past years: balance. You knew Julio would get his…ending the year 2nd overall in receiving yards with 1,409. But now that have a running threat. Devonta Freeman is a legitimate running back. He ran for over 1,000 yards, good for 9th overall. And, Matt Ryan had a fantasy career resurgence, throwing for 4,944 yards, bested only by Drew Brees. Take note, NFL: You have a Top 10 rusher, receiver, and passer. That equals balance, and balance gets you a bye and a home playoff game.
You know what also helps? Scoring a shit ton of points. The Falcons lead the league averaging over 33 points a game.
Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the defense. Perhaps more importantly, the Falcons have found balance defensively as well. Vic Beasley lead the NFL with 15.5 sacks.
Interestingly, the Falcons have not been dominant at home. They were only 5-3 at home this year, and had a better road record of 6-2.
Seattle has a losing record on the road this year. However, they are piquing at the right time. They looked dominant last week in their playoff win over the Lions, and found some balance of their own. Russell Wilson threw for 2 scores, Thomas Rawls ran for 161 yards, and Doug Baldwin topped 100 receiving yards. But they will have a much tougher task against the Falcons. No doubt the matchup of the week will be these two:
The Machine thinks, despite Matt Ryan’s wretched 1-4 playoff record, that Atlanta just has too much firepower for the Seahawks to contain. The Legion of Boom is down a member, and will have their hands full with Julio and Co. The spread is set perfectly at 4.5 (it’s like these Vegas guys know what they’re doing).
Final Score: Atlanta 28, Seattle 24