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Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons: Crunch time for Falcons

"However good the Atlanta receivers are, if their QB is horizontal he'll struggle to get them the ball"

Rookie sensation Russell Wilson's meteoric rise can continue with a win over the Falcons...

Despite a regular season record of 13-3 which was only equalled by the Broncos, the Falcons struggled to shake off their critics. These detractors point to a soft schedule (statistically the easiest in the league) and several tight games against inferior opposition as evidence of an inflated position.

Although there is some truth in those sentiments the Falcons would argue that they just do enough to win and that the week 15, 34-0 verdict over the Giants showed what they are really capable of.

They'll certainly have to notch it up a level after their most recent effort - a disappointing loss against already doomed Tampa. They might argue that they were saving themselves for the big one but that doesn't stack up too well as they put out what was pretty much their strongest available team.

Quarterback Matt Ryan got smacked on his throwing arm; cornerback Dunta Robinson had a head-to-head collision that knocked him out of the game in the first five minutes; and even punter Matt Bosher got boshed on a blocked punt.

Not the best preparation for the post season but one that prepares them for the defensive onslaught Seattle will inevitably bring to the table.

Desperately seeking to avoid a fifth straight playoff loss, the Falcons believe they have the passing game to outscore the Seahawks, but they'll have to be at their best to combat an extremely aggressive secondary led by Richard Sherman . The absence of Hawks' sack leader Chris Clemons (out with a torn ACL) will help, but maybe not enough. 

They do possess a potent passing game but any success will only be possible if human bowling ball and leading rusher Michael Turner does better than he did against Tampa, when he was only able to rack up 18 yards on six carries.

A similar return will release the swarming Seattle defence all over the grill-piece of Matt Ryan, and however good the Atlanta receivers are, if their QB is horizontal he'll struggle to get them the ball.

Have I mentioned Russell Wilson yet? No I don't think I have. Well he provides the X-factor that might just win it for Seattle. The rookie beat RG3 at his own game last week, performing fake hand-offs for fun, playing a conservative game but unbalancing a fierce defence to the delight of running back Marshawn Lynch.

Seattle's very own battering ram, Lynch proved to be almost unplayable in that game when amassing 132 yards, most of them with Redskins defenders hanging off him. If he can play through the pain of a sprained foot he'll have a huge impact.

Momentum is with the Hawks and I like their chances of extending the Falcons' unenviable record of consecutive playoff losses to five, especially with a two and a half point start.

Recommended Bets

Back Seattle to win on Moneyline @ 2.226/5
Back Seattle to win on handicap (+2.5) @ 2.01/1

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12 January 2013



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