Game Scout: Seahawks at Falcons

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Seattle Seahawks (8-1) at Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Georgia Dome, Atlanta - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Erin Andrews
*Keys to the game: Tampa Bay and St. Louis are ranked 18th and 23rd, respectively, in the NFL in rushing, and they're only that high because each had an unheralded rookie running back dice up a Seattle defense that has allowed 405 rushing yards over the past two weeks. The Seahawks have struggled with their run fits from the back seven, and Atlanta is desperate to get its league-worst ground game untracked. RB Steven Jackson was generally bottled up by the Seahawks in recent seasons with the Rams, but Falcons coach Mike Smith believes the offensive line is slowly coming around. Seattle's offense knows it will continue to face a steady diet of eight-man fronts geared toward stopping RB Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks' offensive line could be minus three starters if C Max Unger (concussion) can't go, and QB Russell Wilson took a beating against Tampa Bay last week.
*Matchup to watch - Seahawks secondary vs. Falcons QB Matt Ryan: Seattle is tied for the league lead with 13 interceptions, while Ryan has thrown seven picks over his past two games. He'll see plenty of man coverage and single-high safety looks, and Ryan will have to be accurate against the Seahawks' typically tight coverage.
*Player spotlight - Falcons WR Roddy White: The veteran is expected to return after missing three games, but will he have the speed to separate from physical CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner?
*Fast facts: Wilson has nine game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, tied for the second-most in NFL history for quarterbacks through their first two seasons. ... The Falcons are 3-0 against Seattle under coach Mike Smith.
Seattle's offense has been sluggish out of the gate while the defense has been gashed against the run the past two weeks. A repeat gives the Falcons an opportunity to build an early lead, but can they hold on against a Seahawks team that does an excellent job of making halftime adjustments?
*Our pick: Seahawks 23-20

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