There won’t be fans in the stands for Sunday’s season-opener in Atlanta between the hometown Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, but that shouldn’t detract from some interesting storylines surrounding both teams when they tangle at 10:00 am PT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Seattle will get to see All-Pro safety Jamal Adams in action for the first time as a Hawk, while the Falcons are hoping for big things from new acquisitions and former Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley II and DE Dante Fowler Jr.
Seattle certainly must be in the discussion of Super Bowl contenders, while the Falcons – despite a 7-9 campaign a year ago – will look to pick up where they left off when they finished the 2019 season winning six of their last eight.
The two teams are meeting for the fourth time in five seasons, with the Seahawks taking two of the previous three contests. All three games were decided by seven points or less.
Now, let’s dig into the matchup:
Will Seattle let Russ cook? That’s the biggest question when the ‘Hawks have the ball. Plenty of eyes will be watching to see if Russell Wilson will be given the green light to be more aggressive from the start, which could really open up a lot of big-play opportunities for guys like Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf in the passing game, and open holes for Chris Carson to run through.
For the Falcons, everybody knows how dangerous Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley can be, but will Gurley return to his former self (2017 Offensive Player of the Year), or continue his 2019 form which saw the six-year pro run for a career-worst 857 yards and just 3.8 yards per attempt.
Adams, Bobby Wagner, Quinton Dunbar. Three players to definitely keep eyes on playing for an extremely versatile defense, one that hasn’t seen as much talent since Seattle’s championship seasons. Honestly, the Seahawks could have the league’s best secondary and, despite uncertainty about where the pass rush will come from, a top defensive unit overall.
Fowler (11.5 sacks in 2019) should help improve a Falcons pass rush that recorded just 28 sacks last season (second-lowest total in the league). The hope is that he can motivate a defensive line to get after opposing quarterbacks, taking pressure off a young and inexperienced secondary.
SEATTLE: OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Out; WR Phillip Dorsett II, Questionable.
ATLANTA: DE Charles Harris, Out; CB Kendall Sheffield, Out; DT Marlon Davidson, Questionable.
PREDICTION: Seahawks 27, Falcons 17