Matt Ryan will destroy the Seahawks in a lob sided game to open the NFL playoff weekend, or at least that is the public perception. This certainly opens up an opportunity for punters with the good old “bet against the public strategy” however, one does not simply bet against the public for the sake of betting against the public.
Any NFL punter worth his salt would want to know, why is it that the majority of the public fancy the Atlanta Hawks, and is there any merit to be found on the other side of the ball? Those are but some of the questions you should ask before placing your bet on anyone side. In this post we will be zooming in on the match up between the two birds, this is our Seattle Seahawks vs Atlanta Falcons preview.
Seattle Seahawks vs Atlanta Falcons Odds
The current odds for the Seahawks vs Falcons match sees the Falcons coming in as rather big favourites at odds of @1.45 for a straight up win, with the Seattle Seahawks uncharacteristically big underdogs at @2.8 for the same bet. The line has been set at 4.5 points at odds of @1.91
Looking at the above odds we believe the public, among other variables, has skewed the line, to much in favor of the Falcons and in reality this should be a much closer game than is expected. We believe the Seattle Seahawks has a great chance of not only covering the line but to win the match straight up here is why.
The Atlanta Falcons of 2016/17 will go down in history as one of the best and highest scoring offensive teams in NFL history! With the spotlight in 2016/17 firmly focused on the Dallas Cowboys and their hotshot rookies, Atlanta quietly managed to put together 540-points during the regular season which is not only the most points scored in the regular season but, the most points scored during the regular season by any team ever! No other team has managed to put that amount of points together during a regular season. The Falcons averages a whopping 34-points per game! The latter is a rather impressive feat and it is hard to pick against a team with such an explosive offense, hence 62% of the public favoring the Atlanta Falcons to win by 5-points or more according to a week long survey ran by oddshark.com.
Digging Deeper A Look At The Statistics
So we are all aware that the Falcons have an explosive offense, posting record numbers, but when you dig a little deeper and examine some other key statistics you will find that everything might not be as simple as the score board suggests. The Falcons lost 5 games during the regular season, a high number of losses for a team posting the most points ever scored in the NFL. One would be wise to look at those losses and determine exactly why the Falcons dropped 5, what did they do wrong and what did the other teams do right? Especially since 4 of those losses came against none playoff teams.
It is interesting to note that in all 5 of their losses the Atlanta Falcons were kept below 25-points. In each of their 11 wins the Falcons scored more than 30-points. So the million dollar question how does the Seahawks keep the Falcons below the magical 25-point number on Saturday? A closer examination of just how Atlanta’s offense operates provides the answer.
Atlanta literally comes out flying in the 1st quarter. According to official statistics kept by footballoutsiders.com, the Falcons throw the ball 61% of the time during the 1st quarter, which is a league high, however it is not as simple as simply throwing the ball they do a damn fine job in executing their aerial game! During the 1st half of all regular season matches Ryan averaged a whopping 68% completion rate with an average of 9.2 yards per pass, during the 1st quarter of the regular season, WOW!
What is interesting to note however is that when it comes to the 4th quarter the falcons COMPLETELY change their strategy, abandoning the aerial game in favor of going to the ground, running the ball on 51% of plays, which is the 3rd highest in the league for number of running plays.
What do the above statistics mean, in simple English, and how can it help you profit in making your pick?
It means that the Falcons strike quick and hard in the 1st & 2nd quarter, building up a commanding lead. Forcing the opposing team to abandon their strategy and play catch up football.
IF, and it is a rather big, albeit a possible IF…The Seahawks can somehow wake up the legion of boom and get them to show up on Saturday against the Falcons, get a few stops, while at the same time applying some score board pressure on Atlanta, the Falcons will be completely out of their comfort zone.
If Seattle can make the above scenario happen, the Falcons will be at their most vulnerable. That’s when they are likely to start forcing passes and opportunities which is not there, which can potentially put the once all time leading point scoring defense back into business. If the above can happen there will be a huge swing of odds in favor of the Seattle Seahawks.
The choke factor
Although we don’t read to much into the following, it is also worth noting that the Falcons are a measly 1-4 in the playoffs, but that means zip on game day really, although it can provide the Seahawks with a bit of confidence, but then again that one playoff game win for the Falcons, ironically came against Seattle albeit way back in 2012.
Can the Real Seattle Seahawks please
stand show up
The Seahwaks have been all over the place in the 2016/17 NFL season. Brilliant at times looking like the best team in the league, like that time when they won the Patriots at Gillette staduim, with brilliant defense and even better offense. Then came the uncharacteristic mid season slide where they were just terrible against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers & the record loss to the Packers, among a hand full of other games.
Yet the Seahawks redeemed themselves with a solid wildcard win against a good Lions team. You would be accurate in saying the Seahawks have multiple personalities and can be labeled as a schizophrenic team. Yet that is what we like about this team at least for the match against the Atlanta Falcons, they have that “X” factor you don’t quite know which team will show up, and from an odds perspective that can be a good thing for an underdog.
If you make a bet and the “real” Seahawks decide to show up you just might be in business. However, this is not playing roulette hopping the correct team will show up on the correct day. NO, Seattle is renowned for making end of season runs, that run is yet to happen and we’ve got a feeling it started against Detroit, here is why.
Ryan Cant Throw The Ball If He Is On The Ground
Atlanta’s offensive line VS Seattle’s defensive line.
It goes without saying that Matt Ryan is the heart and soul of the Atlanta offense, if Ryan can stand in the pocket and deliver you can be assured that 30+ points will be put up against the opposing team. Fortunately for the Seattle Seahawks it is not quite as easy as that for the likely MVP candidate. For Ryan to deliver he will need protection from his offensive line, which is an average O-line at best! Official statistics has the Falcons offensive line ranked at a lowly 23rd for sacks allowed, and 18th in quarterback pressure rate. If you go back and watch the games which Atlanta lost it is games where the offensive line got beaten and Ryan got pressured.
It just so happens that Seattle has one of the better defensive lines in the league, which is likely to give them a BIG advantage and can possibly take away the threat of Ryan and his wideouts. Seattle is aggressive on the defensive front blitzing a whopping 27% on 1st and 2nd downs while the number jumps to a league high with Seattle blitzing on 39% of plays on 3rd down.
Of course the above means nothing if you cant penetrate the offensive line but with an average offensive line protecting Ryan the smart money says the Seahawks can (will..?) penetrate that O-line of the Falcons which is likely to not only result in a number of sacks but also to prevent Ryan from getting into his rhythm. Again if they can do the above Seattle is in with a real chance.
Falcons Running Game vs Seahawks Run Defense
We mentioned earlier that, contrary to public perception, the Falcons are not simply an aerial based offense. They go to the running game A LOT. The problem with the running game for the Falcons is, through all their struggles Seattle has remained constant in one area. Stopping the run!
The Seahawks is the leagues leading rush defense allowing only 3.4 yards per rush attempt! while also forcing a league high 0.5 forced fumbles on the run! If you combine the latter with an average run offense for the Falcons, it is pretty clear that it will be up to Matt Ryan and the Aerial game to get the game won for Seattle.
Conclusion & Prediction
The Seahawks biggest vulnerability is in the middle of the field, and it just so happens that Matt Ryan loves throwing deep balls down the middle. Seattle would have had a week to study the Atlanta Falcons and they will be all to aware of their own weakness in the middle area, after the loss of Earl Tomas to an unfortunate injury.
Pete Carroll is a smart guy though, and while it is easier said then done, the Seahawks would certainly have adjusted their defensive strategy for the ball down the middle. If you combine that with a defensive front that is likely to carve up the Falcons offensive line and disrupt Ryan, we believe there is certainly a lot of value to be found in taking Seattle for a straight up win.
Recommended Free Pick: Although we belief the Seahawks can win this match outright, play it safe and take Seattle +4.5 @ 1.91 (10-units)