SEAHAWKS’ NEXT OPPONENT
ATLANTA FALCONS (11-5)
1:30 p.m. Saturday, Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Against the Seahawks: The Falcons have lost 10 of the previous 16 meetings, including Oct. 16 at CenturyLink Field 26-24 – after Atlanta rallied from 17-3 down into a 24-21 lead. Atlanta won the only playoff meeting before this one, 30-28, on Jan. 13, 2013, in the divisional round at the Georgia Dome. Rookie Russell Wilson rallied the Seahawks with three touchdowns in 12½ minutes to put Seattle ahead 28-27 with 31 seconds left. But Matt Ryan withstood Seahawks blitzing for huge passes to get Atlanta in position for the winning field goal by Matt Bryant with 8 seconds left. This is only the third time in nine years the Falcons have hosted the Seahawks.
Line: Falcons by 4½.
What to know: Atlanta is something of a present-day, Air Coryell San Diego Chargers. The Falcons finished the regular season with 540 points (33.8 per game). That tied the 2000 Rams for the seventh-most in an NFL season. No other team came within 71 points of Atlanta’s total this season. The league average this season was 364 points (Seattle scored 354). … The Falcons scored 30 or more points 11 times in 16 games, third-most in any NFL season. They scored 40 points five times, second-most all-time. … Atlanta led the NFL with 6.7 yards per play and scored 3.2 points per drive. … The Falcons were second in total offense (415.8 yards per game), fifth in rushing (120.5 yards) and third in passing (295.3 yards). … That win in January 2013 over Seattle is Ryan’s only victory in the playoffs. The Falcons are 1-4 in the postseason with Ryan as their QB. That includes their loss to the 49ers in the NFC championship game in the week after they beat the Seahawks five postseasons ago … Ryan just got named All-Pro for the first time, edging Tom Brady in the vote of 50 national panelists. … Ryan’s 9.26 yards per pass attempt was the highest in NFL history over a 16-game regular season. … He was the league’s top thrower in the regular season with 38 touchdowns, just seven interceptions and a 117.1 rating. Those were the most TD passes, fewest interceptions and by far highest passer rating in his nine NFL seasons. … Ryan joined Brady and Aaron Rodgers as the only NFL players to throw for at least 3,500 yards in a season with fewer than 10 interceptions. … Ryan completed 69.9 percent of his throws for 4,944 yards, just behind league leader Drew Brees (70.0 and 5,208) in both categories. … Ryan completed 27 of 42 passes for 335 yards three touchdowns, one interception in Atlanta’s loss at Seattle Oct. 16. … The Seahawks sacked Ryan four times that day, tied for the most he got dumped in a game this season. … The Falcons were 24th in allowing sacks this season. … Julio Jones had 83 catches for an NFL-best 100.6 yards per game. His 27 catches of 20 or more yards and five receptions of a least 40 yards were both second most in the NFL. … Jones had seven catches on nine targets for 139 yards and a 36-yard touchdown against the Seahawks in October. Four of those catches came with Richard Sherman covering him. The Falcons’ final play, on fourth down late, ended with Sherman pulling on Jones’ arm before Ryan’s long pass arrived past midfield -- but with no flag and a final incomplete pass to seal Seattle’s win. Expect Sherman to again shadow Jones for at least some of the game. … But the Falcons don’t just throw. Devonta Freeman rushed for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season. … Freeman also caught 54 passes. … No. 2 running back Tevin Coleman ran for eight more scores. … Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett is likely still fuming at Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews. Matthews’ cut block into Bennett’s legs during that October game led to Bennett having arthroscopic knee surgery and missing five games. … Atlanta’s defense was 25th overall, 18th against the run and 27th against the pass in the regular season. The Falcons were 27th in points allowed, 25.4 per game. … Vic Beasley was crazy good most of the regular season with a league-leading 15½ sacks as an outside linebacker/edge rusher in Atlanta’s 4-3 defense head coach Dan Quinn brought over before the 2015 season from being the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator. … The Falcons lost Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant from Wilson High School to a torn pectoral muscle in week 9. Trufant blitzed for Atlanta’s only sack of Russell Wilson in that October game in Seattle.
Quotable: "I know that you know that I know – there’s definitely some of that… Hopefully for everyone listening that will be the last question we hear about it this week. ...I so never wanted the spotlight to be about me. I want it to be about our team and the way they compete and the toughness they have.” – Quinn to reporters in Georgia Monday, on playing his former Seahawks again. Fat chance that will be the last time he gets that question; he’s due on a conference call with Seattle-area media on Tuesday.