A win on Sunday is not quite as ridiculous as the average fan might think. I admit to initially feeling this would be a complete disaster on Sunday, and it very well may be. Looking a little further into the stats tells a potential path to victory for the hometown Hawks.
Atlanta's offense is for real. Counting on them to under-perform is foolhardy. Atlanta's defense, however, is pretty darn suspect. They hide behind a 7th-ranked points against (18.7), but this is a group that gives up some yardage. Their run defense ranks 13th in yards allowed, but a jaw-dropping 26th in YPC against at 4.6 yards each rush. That is a lot of real estate. Their pass defense is ranked 24th in yards allowed and 21st in overall opposing QB rating at 86.8. They are 28th in the NFL in opposing QB completion percentage, allowing 65.8% of opponents passes to reach their destination.
Drill a little bit further and you see a group of cornerbacks all under 6'0". Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu will have chances to make plays. A key question will be whether their injuries allow them to take advantage of those opportunities. If Williams and Obomanu combine for over 14 receptions, the Seahawks have a shot. Holding onto the ball and converting 3rd downs has been a critical factor in determining how effective the Seahawks defense can be. There was a time the defense could keep the offense in the game. That time is gone for 2010.
Matt Hasselbeck is the town bike right now. Everyone is taking him for a ride. He can silence some of those folks with a strong performance on Sunday. A QB rating over 90 is a must for Seattle to have any shot at a win. I can only imagine the cockamamie explanations for why he sucks after pulling off a game like that.
In the two games the Falcons have lost, they rushed for under 70 yards. A hidden bright spot in the 49ers debacle this past Sunday was an encouraging performance against the run with Colin Cole in the lineup. That will be tested this week in spades. If the Seahawks keep Atlanta under 100 yards rushing, there is reason to be optimistic, regardless of the outcome.
There has not been time to dig deeper into Atlanta's season, but the defensive numbers tell a surprisingly convincing story of vulnerability. Seattle does not appear ready to exploit those vulnerabilities due to injury, but if the receiving corp is healthier than expected, Seahawks fans could be in for a shock on Sunday.