This game is going to be…interesting. Seattle looks like a bonafide contender, and steamrolling over an insanely injury depleted Washington squad hasn’t done much to boost their credentials, but a decisive win only adds to their momentum. They are as sexy as playoff contenders go, checking off all the boxes from “underdog” to “unexpected”.
Atlanta is pretty much the opposite. They’ve lost three games this entire year, haven’t really raised that much interest in the betting world, and are about as flat and unexciting as a football team gets. I mean, aside from fantasy football crushes on Julio Jones, there’s very little that gets you pumped to watch a Falcons game.
That’s especially true in the Playoffs, where quarterback Matt Ryan has yet to taste the sweetness of victory. The NFL is always going to be a “what have you done for me lately” league, and while earning the top seed in the conference along with a 9-6-1 ATS record for your betting backers is nice, everyone in Atlanta is leery of Ryan because of his lacking playoff success.
This is all crazy talk, right? Seattle is traditionally a sketchy team to back on the road, and the Falcons went undefeated at home this year aside from a Week 17 gaffe against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No matter what kind of trend I list here, however, nothing is going to cast a bigger shadow than Atlanta’s gloomy 0-4 ATS record in the playoffs with Matt Ryan as their quarterback.
I think that at this point we’re all pretty excited about Russell Wilson. I mean, he’s just fun to watch and he’s proven week in and week out that he can play in this league despite scouts deeming him “too short”. Tell that to their 7-0 ATS record against teams with winning records, and their 5-1 ATS record in NFC matchups. We can get caught up in traditional trends, like Seattle’s tendency to be uninspiring on the road but the 2012 Seahawks have gone 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games.
The biggest problem in backing the Seahawks is that they’ve lost starting defensive end Chris Clemons for the remainder of the playoffs to a torn ACL. That is a major loss, but this defensive side is so stacked that it might not actually hurt them all that much. Matt Ryan will still have to throw against a cocky and productive secondary, and if Alfred Morris couldn’t gain steam against Seattle, then Michael Turner isn’t going to be that effective as a game-changer.
Seattle has defied the odds on a regular basis to the extent that they’ve almost looked like one of the scariest momentum teams in the league. The Seahawks can murder you at any given time. They literally never take the pedal of the mettle. Marshawn Lynch makes it a habit of getting into the second level on every other run, and the Falcons’ corners are sometimes averse to making tackles.
All in all this just seems like a bad matchup for the Falcons. Seattle is playing at an incredibly high level, they have tons of confidence and are well equipped to overcome the loss of Clemons. Any glitch in Atlanta’s offense will create pressure on Ryan to come through in a playoff game, which is something he’s never been able to do.
Russell Wilson already has a playoff victory in his back pocket. I’m not going to be surprised when he adds another one this weekend. The tight, virtually non-existent line on this game seems like a gift. I have respect for Atlanta as a football team; they’ve done a lot of things right in terms of personnel. But nothing has ever made them a threat in the playoffs and running to the freight train of the Seattle Seahawks is going to make live a living hell for Ryan as he suffers another disastrous January weekend.
Furious NFC Divisional Playoff Betting Pick – Seattle +2.5 (OVER)