Seahawks at Falcons
Since the Atlanta Falcons made Matt Ryan their franchise quarterback, they have been synonymous with incredible success at home. While that has continued this season, the Falcons are more focused on ending another pattern that has emerged since Ryan and head coach Mike Smith came on board in 2008: an inability to win in the postseason. Top-seeded Atlanta has another chance to rectify its recent playoff struggles when it hosts the red-hot Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in the NFC divisional round. The Falcons are 0-3 in the playoffs over the past four seasons and were destroyed in their last two postseason appearances by a combined 72-23.
Seattle arrives in Atlanta as the team that no one wants to play. The Seahawks have ripped off six consecutive victories and turned in an impressive performance last weekend, erasing an early 14-0 deficit in Washington to eliminate the Redskins 24-14. Seattle has allowed the fewest points in the league (15.3 per game) and has shaken its reputation as a team unable to win away from CenturyLink Field by prevailing in its last three road games. The Falcons have won the past three meetings.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -2.5, O/U 46
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (12-5): Seattle did not deviate from its game plan despite the early two-touchdown deficit at Washington and rallied behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw for 187 yards and a touchdown and ran for 67 yards on eight carries. Wilson continues to play with the poise of a veteran, throwing 17 touchdown passes and only two interceptions in the past nine games. He has the luxury of a sledgehammer behind him in running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for a season-high 132 yards and a touchdown. Lynch, who finished third in the league with 1,590 yards, has reeled off five straight 100-yard games and 11 overall this season. He had only 24 yards on eight carries in last season's 30-28 loss to the Falcons in Seattle. The defense suffered a huge blow with an injury to DE Chris Clemons, who leads the team with 11.5 sacks.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (13-3): Atlanta won its first seven home games before falling to Tampa Bay in a meaningless regular-season finale. That gave Ryan a 33-6 career record at the Georgia Dome. The former No. 3 overall pick posted career highs with 4,719 yards and 32 touchdowns passes and has perhaps the league's most complete receiving corps at his disposal. Roddy White and deep threat Julio Jones each surpassed 1,100 yards and combined for 17 scoring passes while ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez hauled in 93 receptions for 930 yards and eight touchdowns. The running game ranked just 29th in the league with an average of 87.3 yards. Michael Turner posted only two 100-yard games and ran for more than 52 yards once in the second half of the season. Atlanta's defense surrendered an average of 18.7 points and will hope sack leader John Abraham (10) is recovered from an ankle injury.
1. Seattle has outscored the opposition 217-74 during its six-game winning streak.
2. The Falcons have scored at least 30 points in each of their last three wins over the Seahawks, including the narrow victory at Seattle last season.
3. The Seahawks signed PK Ryan Longwell to replace the injured Steven Hauschka.