The pre-dawn downpour from game day in Seattle is supposed to stop to no rain by the time the Seahawks and Falcons kick off Monday evening at CenturyLink Field.
Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor are out injured in Seattle’s secondary, replaced by Jeremy Lane at left cornerback and Bradley McDougald at free safety, respectively.
Left tackle Duane Brown is questionable to play and coach Pete Carroll says it will be a game-time decision whether the three-time Pro Bowl blocker plays. Brown said his believes he is fortunate to have voided a longer-term, multiple-game injury when he got his right ankle rolled up on in a pileup during the win at Arizona on Nov. 9. I’ll be looking during pregame warmups Monday to see how Brown is moving.
If he can’t play, Matt Tobin would. The former Philadelphia Eagles backup and part-time starter acquired in a trade in August was a college teammate at Iowa of Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn from 2008-10. Clayborn is coming off a six-sack game against two backup left tackles from Dallas.
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ATLANTA FALCONS (5-4) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-3)
Monday, 5:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Line: Seahawks by 1½.
TV: ESPN Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
The series: Atlanta has won four of the last six meetings dating through Dec. 30, 2007 at the Georgia Dome. That includes the Falcons’ 36-20 sprint past Seattle last January in the NFC divisional playoffs in Atlanta. This is the third meeting in 13 months. Atlanta lost in October 2016 at CenturyLink Field 26-24, when Richard Sherman got away with yanking down All-Pro receiver Julio Jones’ arm while breaking up a fourth-down pass on the Falcons’ final offensive play.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Surprise from the "Legion of Backups": Richard Sherman is out. Kam Chancellor is out. Jeremy Lane and Bradley McDougald are in. And Earl Thomas is coming back from a pulled hamstring that cost him the last two games. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan has thrown for 338 and 335 yards the last two times he’s played Seattle over the last 13 months—and that was with Sherman and Chancellor playing. The Seahawks won’t be having anyone shadow Julio Jones as Sherman did in the previous two meetings. That means Lane, McDougald and nickel back Justin Coleman are going to have be disciplined. And great.
Be in a rush to help those fill-ins: The best way for the Seahawks to help their patchwork secondary is for Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, 2016 Falcon Dwight Freeney and the pass rush to get to like Seattle has the last two times it’s played him. The Seahawks have seven sacks in the last two meetings with the Falcons. Monday night’s key to success will be not giving Ryan the time to wait for receivers to do more of Atlanta’s tricky bunching and crossing that has given Seattle’s secondary problems.
Wilson more MVP-ing: Russell Wilson has gained 82 percent of Seattle’s yards from scrimmage. That’s the most by one player for any team in the league. He’s second in the NFL in passing and leads the Seahawks with 290 yards rushing—258 of those on scrambles away from pass rushers. Unless the offensive line suddenly starts opening running lanes that have not been there for the backs, it’s going to take even more from Wilson to get Seattle where it wants to be in January.
The pick: Seahawks, 27-24. The signs are all over for an Atlanta win: Sherman and Chancellor out against the lethal Ryan and Jones; Brown’s injury, with Atlanta’s Adrian Clayborn coming off a six-sack game. But Wilson makes more ridiculous plays to steal a Seattle victory--and pull the Seahawks back atop the NFC West over the Rams (7-3) on tie-breakers.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
3 Russell Wilson QB 5-11 215 sixth
Really feels like it’s Wilson this, Wilson that or nothing at all for the Seahawks’ offense this season.
20 Jeremy Lane CB 6-0 190 sixth
Discard last month. Brought back. Now starting, for the injured Sherman. He’s absolutely on the spot.
72 Michael Bennett DE 6-4 274 ninth
Team-high 6½ sacks despite a bad toe, worse plantar fascia in the foot. A big game would save the secondary.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
11 Julio Jones WR 6-3 220 seventh
That’s not just rain in Seattle. That’s Jones salivating in his hotel room over facing SEA without Sherman and Chancellor.
99 Adrian Clayborn DE 6-3 280 seventh
Six sacks last weekend vs DAL backup left tackles. SEA will have his former college teammate, backup Matt Tobin, at LT if Duane Brown can’t play.
26 Tevin Coleman RB 6-1 205 third
With Devonta Freeman out (concussion), elusive Coleman becomes the lead back—on top of a dangerous receiver.