One of the more intriguing Week 1 matchups in the NFL will feature the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Atlanta Falcons. On the road, the Seahawks are 1.5-point favorites with an over/under of 48.5 points.
Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL. They’ve won at least ten games in seven of the last eight seasons, a streak they would like to continue in 2020. Of course, with the NFC West arguably being the most difficult division in football, there is pressure on Seattle to win as many games as possible outside of the division.
As for the Falcons, they are hoping to get back to the playoffs this year after missing out in each of the last two seasons. Dan Quinn spent large chunks of 2019 on the hot seat and appeared to be inches away from getting fired at one point.
However, the Falcons stuck with him, and the gamble paid off as Atlanta went 6-2 during the second half of the season, including four straight wins to close out the year. The Falcons will now hope they can carry that momentum into 2020.
A lackluster rushing attack was Atlanta’s bigger problem on offense last season. The Falcons ranked 30th in the NFL in the rushing yards. To help fix that problem, the Falcons brought in former L.A. Rams running back and University of Georgia star Todd Gurley to give them a lift. Of course, Gurley has battled knee problems and doesn’t appear to be the same back he was a few short years ago.
That said, the Atlanta offensive line could be the bigger wild card this season. Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary, a pair of 2019 draft picks, will start on the right side of the line. If they can show improvement, it’ll help the Falcons generate more of a rushing attack. If Atlanta can run the ball better, it’ll start to open things up down the field for Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
Keep in mind the Seattle secondary has changed a lot from the Legion of Boom days. That unit was vulnerable last season, prompting the Seahawks to trade for cornerback Quinton Dunbar and safety Jamal Adams during the offseason.
With Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright still entrenched at linebacker, the Seahawks are in good shape to stop the run. If those additions to the secondary live up to expectations, the Seahawks should be able to keep Matt Ryan and company in check.
The Russell Wilson Gang
For the Seattle offense, it’s all about Russell Wilson. If not for Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, he would have been a more serious MVP candidate in 2019. Of course, it helps to have play-making wide receivers like Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, not to mention a steady running back like Chris Carson.
The biggest question facing the Seahawks is whether their offensive line can improve after allowing Wilson to be sacked 48 times last year. While Wilson is productive while on the run, he’d be more effective if he wasn’t regularly flushed from the pocket.
If the Seattle offensive line remains a weakness, the Falcons have a new weapon to help take advantage in Dante Fowler Jr., who racked up 11.5 sacks last season. Atlanta’s outside pass rush was almost non-existent last season. But with Fowler on the edge and Grady Jarrett providing a push up the middle, the Falcons may have a chance to disrupt Wilson and the Seattle offense.
Under normal circumstances, bettors would be wise to stay away from a West Coast team which is favored on the road. However, the Seahawks were 5-0 in such games last season. Carroll, for whatever reason, knows how to get his team ready for early games. With the Seahawks being the better team, bet on Seattle to cover the 1.5-point spread against Atlanta.