Another week, another Seahawks game against an ostensibly inferior opponent. Earlier in the season this sort of matchup meant we could look forward to watching a huge blowout victory, but after back to back near escapes against the 3-4 Rams and 0-7 Buccaneers, well, let's just say the 2-6 Falcons feel a whole lot less like a circled win than they a couple weeks ago.
The biggest problem on the offense has been the health of the offensive line. After nine games, the Hawks' first string linemen have missed a combined 15 starts, and they'll be adding three more missed starts this week when C Max Unger joins LT Russell Okung and RT Breno Giacomini on the sideline. Thankfully, his backup Lemeul Jeanpierre is one of the strongest backup o-linemen on the team, so the dropoff shouldn't be too sharp, plus Atlanta's defense is one of the worst in the league when it comes to pressuring opposing QBs.
The other potential worry on that side of the ball is the loss of Sidney Rice for the season, but it isn't something I would lose any sleep over. Rice may have all the raw talent he needs to be a legitimate number one receiver, which we saw for stretches in 2012, but in 2013 that ability has not shown up much at all. I don't know if the problem has been injuries or what, but he and Wilson have not been clicking at all. See for yourself -- here are the stats I have for Seatte's wide receivers and tight ends this year:
|Name||Pass Targets||Receptions||Catch Rate|
|Sidney Rice (IR)||35||15||42.86%|
|Stephen Williams (cut)||2||0||0.00%|
Unless he agrees to take a huge paycut (he's due to make $8.5 million next season), I don't see him returning for the 2014 season.
The defense has also been having issues, particularly against the run. Over the last two weeks, despite playing against two of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL, the Seahawks allowed an embarrassing 405 total run yards at a clip of 5.4 yards per carry. One of the team's best run-stuffers, DE Red Bryant, is out this week due to a concussion, but the Falcons have the absolute worst run game in the league, so his absence shouldn't hurt too much. That said, if the Hawks let a pedestrian RB like Jacquizz Rodgers or the mortal remains of Steven Jackson run roughshod over them today, worry.