The Atlanta Falcons blew a big fourth-quarter lead in Week 1, and nearly overcame an even bigger one in Week 2. On Sunday, the Falcons will look to get their first victory against a 1-1 Seattle Seahawks team.
Since this Week 3 matchup is essentially a tossup — Seattle is favored by 2.5 points — we crossed enemy lines and got some inside info from Tim Weaver, the managing editor at Seahawks Wire.
Tim was kind enough to provide us with five storylines to watch for during Sunday’s game.
Geno Smith needs to cook
Weaver: Seattle’s new starting QB has performed well given the circumstances. However, the Seahawks desperately need to start testing their opponents by taking more deep shots. That goes against Geno Smith’s instincts, but other teams will continue stacking the box unless they make them pay. Smith has good touch and more arm talent than most people think, but he hasn’t been asked to really throw downfield much. This will be a big challenge for him – and if he can’t hack it, it may open the door for Drew Lock.
No run game going yet
Weaver: Through two games the Seahawks have managed a grand total of 112 rushing yards and are only averaging 3.4 yards per carry as a team. That’s obviously not ideal for a team that wants their offensive identity to be about running the ball. Part of this will require Geno Smith to throw downfield more, but they also need better blocking up front to open up lanes for Rashaad Penny and Ken Walker. They were superb during the preseason in this regard. However, the results have been anemic so far this season.
Seattle can't tackle
Weaver: The biggest problem for this team against both the Broncos and the 49ers was missed tackles. They were credited with 12 against Denver and it looked even worse against San Francisco. All together they have allowed 292 rushing yards – which is awful considering how good their interior defensive line is. PFF has them ranked 30th in tackling heading into this week. They will need to improve dramatically in this area or else it won’t matter what else their defense does.
Youth movement at cornerback
Weaver: Two key pieces for the Seahawks this year are rookie cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. They have been thrust into action early. Woolen is starting at RCB and Bryant will be in the slot replacing the injured Justin Coleman. Both are gifted in their own ways but they also have a lot to learn about competing at this level. Atlanta can probably take advantage of their inexperience.
Special teams dominance
Weaver: One part of the game where this team is thriving is on special teams – as they should be. No team is spending more money on their specialists this year and the investment is paying off. Last week Tariq Woolen blocked a field goal that turned into a touchdown for the Seahawks, and those kinds of splashy plays on special teams are really not that uncommon. The game could swing with one or two big moments in this area if the Falcons are not paying attention.
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