[caption id="attachment_16684" align="aligncenter" width="421"] Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) makes a catch in the end zone for a touchdown as New York Giants defensive back Will Hill (31) and strong safety Stevie Brown (27) defend during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Rich Addicks)[/caption]
Gonzalez leads Atlanta in receptions with 93 for 930 yards, including eight touchdowns. He is second all-time with 1,242 receptions and has topped 90 catches five times during his 16-year career, a record for tight ends.
Gonzalez owns career records for tight ends with 14,268 yards receiving, 103 touchdowns and 30 games with at least 100 yards receiving.
Gonzalez was voted to his 14th Pro Bowl at the end of the 2012 season, and likely is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
But Gonzalez still has yet to experience a playoff victory – one of the main reasons he agreed to let Kansas City trade him to Atlanta four years ago.
“The biggest thing is just having an awareness of where he’s at, and understanding they’re going to look for him, whether it’s third down, red zone or whatever,” said Seattle rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner. “You want to make it as difficult as you can, understanding that he might catch some balls, but they should be difficult catches. He should have to work for it. Make his life miserable instead of easy.”
John McGrath of The News Tribune says receiver Roddy White and Julio Jones are I and IA for the Falcons. McGrath: “Memo to the Seahawks: White and Jones are not a fire-and-ice collaboration designed to balance each other’s weaknesses. They are a collaboration of fire and, well, more fire.”
The Seahawks have been efficient in the red zone during the regular season, but struggled last week against Washington.
Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times writes that general manager John Schneider, the architect of the Seahawks, is more than happy to stay in the background.
Brock Huard of 710 ESPN Seattle breaks down Marshawn Lynch’s game-winning touchdown run against Washington in this video link.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com writes that defensive tackle Clinton McDonald celebrated his 26th birthday against Washington last week by recovering a fumble. McDonald will be responsible for anchoring the defensive line inside in nickel situations on Sunday.
Dave Wyman of 710 ESPN Seattle writes that Atlanta might have the best record in football, but the best team in the league right now – the Seattle Seahawks – are traveling to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.
Shawn Clarke of The Sports Network previews the game here. He picks the Falcons 24-17.
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. previews the game here after watching both teams on tape. He also likes the Falcons 24-17. You must be an ESPN Insider to view this. Williamson: “Atlanta, where the Falcons were 7-1 this year, is an extremely difficult place to play. Although Lynch is primed for a massive game, the Falcons are the fresher team. Their dynamic passing attack will eventually prevail in an excellent game.”
Bill Barnwell of Grantland likes the Falcons 24-20 over the Seahawks, and says the key is Seattle’s inability to stop the run during the second half of the season. According to Barnwell, on first-and-10 carries in two-score situations during the first half of the season the Seahawks are giving up 5.6 yards per rush attempt. Seattle only gave up 3.8 yards per rush attempt in that same situation in the first half of the season. Barnwell: “In short, teams are running for 10 or more yards on the Seahawks in their most basic situation nearly twice as frequently during the second half of the season. Furthermore, this isn't a stat influenced by one big play: The Seahawks haven't allowed a carry of more than 28 yards in this situation all year. Instead, Seattle has been getting sliced and diced by opposition running games all second half."
Statician Nate Silver predicts a Patriots-Seahawks rematch in the Super Bowl in this video link.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution breaks down the match-up between Atlanta’s passing offense vs. Seattle’s pass defense. He gives the advantage to the Falcons.