Seahawks opponent: Atlanta Falcons
By the numbers
Consecutive games in which Atlanta has given up at least 100 yards rushing.
Number of interceptions thrown by Atlanta QB Matt Ryan in the past two games.
Consecutive games in which Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez has caught a pass, second in NFL history behind the 274 of Jerry Rice.
Game time: 10 a.m. Pacific, Sunday, Georgia Dome.
TV: Ch. 13.
Coach: Mike Smith, 58-30, sixth season.
Last game: Lost at Carolina, 34-10.
The series: Seahawks lead the regular-season series 8-5 but have lost the past three dating to a 21-18 victory at CenturyLink Field in 2005. The most memorable game in the series, though, occurred in the divisional playoff round Jan. 13 when the Falcons beat Seattle 30-28 on a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with eight seconds left.
The early line: Seahawks by 6½.
Key players: The Falcons are one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL after entering the season considered a Super Bowl contender. Atlanta, though, still has one of the NFL’s most dynamic passing attacks led by QB Matt Ryan, and is sixth in the league in passing yards per game at 289.2. And that’s playing mostly without the top two receivers from a year ago in Julio Jones (out for the year with a foot injury) and Roddy White (who has missed the past three games with hamstring and ankle injuries but could be back this week). Ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez (actually 37) continues to be a receiving force and has a team-high 44 receptions for 476 yards. Atlanta’s defense has struggled all season, allowing 27.3 points a game, tied for 25th in the NFL. The Falcons, though, are getting solid play out of first-round choice Desmond Trufant of Washington and Wilson High in Tacoma as he leads the team with eight pass defenses from his cornerback spot and had his first interception against Carolina on Sunday.
Atlanta’s keys to success: The Falcons have had a hard-luck season dealing with key injuries and tough early defeats. Atlanta’s first four losses all came by seven points or less, including at New Orleans (23-17) and New England (30-23). When Ryan has time to throw, the Falcons can still move the ball, and Atlanta will be harder to defend if White comes back this week. Atlanta’s main issues are in the running game. The Falcons have the worst rushing attack in the NFL at just 64.4 yards a game and are 20th against the run defensively at 116.3.