TALE OF THE TAPE

Divisional Round: Seattle Seahawks At Atlanta Falcons

Seahawks
Cardinals
Quarterback
In the year of the rookie quarterback, it’s third-round draft pick Russell Wilson who remains alive while Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have completed their seasons. Wilson is an outstanding athlete who throws the ball well and has great recognition. However, his most outstanding characteristic may be his confidence. He won’t be afraid taking on the NFC’s best regular-season team on the road.
Winner Matt Ryan has been waiting for this opportunity since last year’s postseason loss to the Giants. The Falcons got taken to the woodshed in that game and never gave New York a battle. Ryan has had a sensational year, completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 4,719 yards with 32 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Offense
The Seahawks are a tough, physical team on offense and their first priority will be to establish running back Marshawn Lynch and the power running game. Wilson likes wide receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. Rice caught 50 passes for 748 yards and seven touchdowns, while the hard-nosed Tate also caught seven scoring passes. TE Zach Miller has good hands on third-down plays.
Winner The Falcons have superior receivers who can dominate the game with their big-play ability. Roddy White caught 92 passes for 1,351 yards and 7 touchdowns, while explosive Julio Jones (79-1,198-10) has the speed to break plays from anywhere on the field. Tight end Tony Gonzalez has been playing his entire career to get to the Super Bowl and this represents his best chance.
Defense
Winner The Seahawks got hit with a big blow when defensive end Chris Clemons suffered a torn ACL in the Wild-Card win over the Redskins. Clemons was the Seahawks’ best pass rusher. DE Bruce Irvin (8.0 sacks) must respond with a huge effort. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is the Seahawks’ leading tackler and he has the speed to range all over the field. CB Richard Sherman had a team-high eight interceptions.
The Falcons attack with speed and quickness on defense, but they can be vulnerable to the power game and that’s what Seattle will bring. The Falcons ranked 24th in total defense during the regular season. Defensive end John Abraham used his quickness and moves to register 10.0 sacks this year. Safety Thomas DeCoud had 76 tackles and six interceptions for the Falcons.
Special Teams
The Seahawks are in a bit of trouble with their kicking game as placekicker Steven Hauschka sprained left (plant) ankle and he may not be at his best for this game. Head coach Pete Carroll is looking at placekickers who can fill in for Hauschka. Veteran return specialist Leon Washington has speed and excels at finding the creases to exploit.
Winner Matt Bryant had an excellent showing in the regular season, making 33-of-38 FG attempts. He was 4-of-4 on attempts of 50 yards or longer. Matt Bosher has a strong leg. He averaged 47.5 yards per punt and he dropped 22-of-63 punts inside the 20.

The Winner Is

Winner Cardinals
3 out of 4

Both sides have intangibles working for them. The Seahawks are riding the underdog wave and are fearless when it comes to playing on the road with Wilson under center. The uncertainty in the Seahawks kicking game may hurt badly. The Falcons have been waiting for a chance at playoff redemption for over a year. Ryan gets his first postseason victory.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to throw a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to pass in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Conference Championship Tale: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots

    The Steelers and Patriots meet in Foxboro for the right to go to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

  2. ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the game at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Conference Championship Tale: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

    Two MVP candidates at quarterback meet up in Atlanta for the right to go to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

  3. GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 8:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass in the second quarter during the NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Detroit Lions during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Divisional Round Tale: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

    The Packers look to avenge a loss to the Cowboys in the regular season.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Baltimore

Track Weather On The Go With Our App!
Your Podcast Network Play.it
CBS All Access

Listen Live