Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Seahawks & Falcons: Best Defense Vs. Best Offense

Dave Martin
AP Photo
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) misses a catch as Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) defends during the NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta.

The Seahawks host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.

Sports commentator Art Thiel tells 88.5’s Kirsten Kendrick that this game will definitely be one to watch – for many reasons.

Thiel said the Falcons have the best offense in the NFL. And the Seahawks are generally regarded as the best defense in the NFL.

"So, this is going to be a clash of titans in that regard," he said.

"The Falcons are averaging more than 450 yards a game. That's 60 more than the next best team and about 150 more than the Seahawks.

"Atlanta has got a very diverse offense - very balanced running and passing. They have a good coach in former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who's in his third year in Atlanta and lots of the players have great affection for him.

"This has got a lot of drama in it because fans saw that the Falcons beat the Denver Broncos - handed them their first loss last week in Denver - 23-16. So that caught the attention of the entire NFL."

Time To Prepare, Heal

The Seahawks had a well-timed bye last weekend, giving them time to prepare for the Falcons game and a chance for players like quarterback Russell Wilson to recover from injuries. Wilson sprained his ankle in one game and suffered a knee sprain in another.

"He looks close to 100 percent. He's not quite there yet, but seems to be recovering," Thiel said.

"They also got the return to health for other players such as defensive tackle Jarran Reed, a rookie who they really like a lot.

"And this will be the second game for right guard Germain Ifedi, who had a passable first start as a rookie. And they see a lot of great things happening on the offensive line as he gets more experience."

Game Within The Game: Sherman Vs. Jones

Thiel said there's another reason to watch Sunday's game.

"If folks like the game within the game, please pay attention to wide receiver Julio Jones and cornerback Richard Sherman," he said.

"These guys are the best in their disciplines in the business. Richard has great respect for Jones.

"He is third in the NFL in receiving yards - mostly based on a game two weeks ago against New Orleans in which he had 300 receiving yards. Only the sixth in NFL history where an individual had 300 or more yards. That's the kind of threat he is.

"They also use him as a decoy. And maybe that's going to be the plan Sunday. Just let Richard take himself out of the game, occupied with Julio Jones.

"If that's the plan, then there's going to be a lot of pressure on the other side of the defensive backfield on the Seahawks to try to contain this offense," Thiel noted.

Carroll: Could Be Best Seahawks Team

Thiel recently asked Seahawks coach Pete Carroll about a comment he made on the radio, saying, 'We have a helluva team.'

"I said 'Is this your best team?' and he said 'It could be,'" Thiel said about his chat with Carroll.

"It was more optimism than I've heard Pete say earlier in the year about his team that I can recall. He usually couches his remarks very carefully, as all coaches do, saying there's potential.

"He didn't say this IS his best team. But still, he went on the record about the previous two weeks' games and said, 'We're coming together. I like this team a lot on  several levels.'

"That really did resonate, I think, with Seahawks fans.

"This could be a matchup Sunday that we'll see again in the playoffs. That would be  a dramatic thing: best against the best."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.