The Seahawks are not only good enough to beat the Atlanta
Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday (10 a.m., FOX), they’re playing with
There’s no pressure on these Seattle birds, who have not missed
a beat since getting on a roll with a road victory over the
The Falcons are the No. 1 seeds, but haven’t been soaring like
the Hawks. Atlanta is coming off a loss to Tampa Bay and has lost
two of its last four games. There’s also the fact that Atlanta is
0-3 in the playoffs under current coach Mike Smith. The Falcons
will be dissed big-time if they don’t win this one. Think they’re
feeling a little pressure?
But if you’re a Seattle fans, there are questions. Here are six
that come to mind?
Q1: Can the Seahawks overcome the loss of
defensive end Chris Clemons, their best pass rusher?
As good as Clemons is, Seattle should be able get it done
without him. This is an opportunity for first-round draft pick
Bruce Irvin to make a name for himself on the national stage.
Q2: Can Seattle sustain the energy and focus
that’s gotten them this far?
That’s the main concern. If you’re a Hawks fan, you’d like to
think they’re peaking at the perfect time. On the other hand, you
hope they haven’t peaked too early. It’s so difficult to maintain
that edge, but I’m inclined to think a lack of energy or focus
won’t be a problem. Considering what’s at stake, it shouldn’t.
Plus, these guys look like they’re having too much fun to wear down
now. One of the most impressive traits of this team once it got on
its roll is how it’s been able to play from the first snap to the
last without any letdowns. You gotta like this quote from Doug
Baldwin, as told to Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times: “We’re
going to be physical and consistent. And we’re going to do it until
the other team can’t do it anymore.”
Q3: What about the matchup with Atlanta’s
skills guys — quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receivers Roddy White and
Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez?
Seattle’s defensive secondary has pretty much controlled
opponents all season, but this could be the toughest challenge yet,
and the one question that worries me the most. Cornerback Brandon
Browner could have trouble with the speed of White and Jones. Those
two were targeted 28 times and caught 17 passes for 205 yards in a
31-28 win over Seattle on Oct. 2, 2011. And Tony Gonzalez still has
the ability to come up with a big plays. And if they don’t get
pressure on Ryan, well, you know what could happen.
Q4: Will the loss of kicker Steven Hauschka,
who was put on injured reserve Wednesday, hurt the Hawks?
You never know. The guy they signed, Ryan Longwell, 38, has
loads of experience but he hasn’t kicked in the league this season.
And Hauschka has been as reliable as any kicker in the league. If
it comes down to FGs, it might not be good for Seattle.
Q5: Is there a chance that the Hawks got a
little lucky with the schedule makers late in the season? Have they
played anybody really good?
I know, I know, I know. The 49ers were pretty good and Seattle
put up 42 points on their rivals, but the Niners were beat up that
day. The 58-0 and 50-17 wins were impressive, but they were over
the Cardinals (who had eight turnovers) and Bills. Seattle
struggled to beat the Rams 20-13 in its regular-season final at
home and they beat a Redskins team that was less than full strength
because of RG3’s knee. And Washington wasn’t all that great to
begin with, having won the mediocre NFC West.
Q6: Can scrambling QB Russell Wilson stay
We saw what the Redskins turned into after RG3s knee injury. And
as good as rookie QB Russell Wilson has been, he’s been sacked six
times in the last two games. And if he was not able to do the best
impersonation of Fran Tarkenton since, well, Fran Tarkenton, he
would have several more. And if he’s a second late going into his
slide, well, Seahawks’ fans don’t even want to think about that
Interested in flying to Atlanta? Sunday’s game at the Georgia
Dome is sold out , but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported
that StubHub.com was offering 9,000 tickets that started at $60 for
upper end-zone seats.
Odds to win the Super Bowl
The Seahawks and Falcons are both listed at 8-1 to win
the Super Bowl. Denver, at 3-1, is the favorite to hoist
the Vince Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans on Feb. 2.
Did you know?
Courtesy Steve Rudman of Sportspressnw.com comes this trivia:
Since playoff seeding began following the 1990 season, just one No.
5 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed, in the 2007 divisional playoffs
when Eli Manning led the New York Giants to a 21-17 upset of No.
Seattle, a No. 5 seed, would like to duplicate what those Giants
did. They defeated No. 2-seeded Green Bay 23-20 (OT) in the NFC
Championship game and the AFC’s No. 1-seed, New England, 17-14 in
Super Bowl XLII.
Seattle’s also trying to become the third-straight wild card to
win the Super Bowl, following Green Bay (2010) and the Giants
Packers or Niners?
OK, let’s say the Seahawks win. Who would you like to see them
play in the NFC Championship game, the Packers or Niners? Either
way, that’s a juicy matchup right? The Packers will want revenge
for the Failed Mary play at the Clink earlier this season, and the
Seahawks would get another shot at Jim Harbaugh (is there a more
hated man in the NFL right now?) and the Niners.
Where are you watching the game?
Just wondering, where’s the best place to watch a Seahawks’
playoff game in Kitsap County? If one is looking to step out of his
man cave and wants to join some fans, where do you go? The
Cloverleaf and Arena are obvious options in B-town. The casinos are
obvious places in the north end. Kelly’s 19th Hole usually draws a
crowd in Chico. I would imagine All Star Lanes and Hi-Joy Bowl draw
a crowd. What’s the best place in Belfair? Bainbridge? Anybody
offering prizes and giveaways? Are there some sleeper joints out
there that we should know about?
This is your chance to give your favorite place a little free