The Seattle Seahawks’ 26-6 dismantling of the Detroit Lions Saturday night probably wasn’t all that surprising to most fans of the National Football League because that’s what the Seahawks do – win big games at home.
Away from CenturyLink Field, however, it’s a totally different story.
The Atlanta Falcons received a blessing in disguise with the Seattle victory Saturday night. They’ll get to play the Seahawks at the Georgia Dome in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs rather than the red-hot Green Bay Packers or the New York Giants, who would’ve brought 20,000 of their own rowdy fans to the game.
Seattle will be a difficult team to defeat, yes, and they have already beaten the Falcons once this season. But when it gets down to the remaining eight teams, there are no bad ones, so you hope for the weakest of the bunch. And the Seahawks just might be that weakest NFC team, especially on the road.
Of the teams still alive in the NFC, the Seahawks have the worst road record. Their 3-4-1 record away from home would’ve doomed them had they not gone 7-1 at CenturyLink Field. But they’re notoriously good at home, and that’s why they won the NFC West and are still playing deep into the playoffs.
One statistic is even more astounding. If you look at Seattle’s last six regular-season games, the Seahawks averaged 31.7 points per game in three home games. But in the three road games during that stretch, Seattle averaged just 13.3 points per game.
The Falcons might have more points than that by the end of the first quarter on Saturday afternoon.
Seattle’s strength remains its defense, but Atlanta’s offense seems to put up big numbers against even the toughest of opponents. They scored 24 points in the Week 6 loss at Seattle, and if it weren’t for a blatant blown call at the end of the game, they probably would’ve scored more. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, and the Falcons’ offense has only gotten better since then.
On the other side of the ball, Atlanta’s defense has also shown improvement late in the season. The Falcons allowed 26 points to Seattle in the loss, but in the last six weeks of the season, only two opponents managed to score 20 points or more on Atlanta.
In the regular season, Seattle ranked No. 18 in scoring, averaging 22.1 points per game, while Atlanta scored 33.8 points per game, four and a half points better than the league’s second-best offense.
None of this will matter if the Falcons come out and lay an egg in what could be the final game at the Georgia Dome, but Atlanta got its ideal opponent for Saturday’s big game. Seattle is not the team it has been in past years, and the Falcons will have a perfect opportunity to expose that on Saturday, 2,636 miles from the stadium where the Seahawks have been so cozy and comfortable all season.Follow @Sean_Breslin