- Associated Press - Thursday, November 16, 2017

SEATTLE (AP) - Coming off their most impressive victory of the season, the Atlanta Falcons may have lucked out on the timing for one of their toughest road trips.

The Falcons won’t be seeing the likes of Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril and likely Kam Chancellor when they face the injury-riddled Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

Atlanta (5-4) is coming off its most complete performance in a 27-7 domination of Dallas last week. Adrian Clayborn was the star with six sacks of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott.

Matt Ryan continued his streak of 200-yard passing games and threw a pair of touchdowns.

It was the type of performance Atlanta had struggled to find with consistency this season, and why the Falcons are two games behind in the NFC South race.

And while coming to Seattle anytime of the year is a challenge, the Falcons may be catching the Seahawks (6-3) at the best possible time.

“We feel like we’re playing ourselves,” Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones said. “We know they’re going to fly around and they’re going to have great intensity, and we’re going to have the same thing. It’s who makes the fewer mistakes in this game.”

Seattle is coming off an extended break, but it was after a costly win over Arizona lowlighted by the loss of Sherman to an Achilles tendon injury. Sherman, Avril and C.J. Prosise are all on injured reserve. Earl Thomas and Jarran Reed both have hamstring injuries, but are optimistic they’ll play.

New left tackle Duane Brown, the addition meant to stabilize Seattle’s offensive line, injured his ankle in his second game with the Seahawks and will be a game-time decision. And now there are concerns with the health of Chancellor after suffering a stinger late in the win over Arizona.

While Chancellor hasn’t been ruled out, Seattle is planning on Bradley McDougald starting.

“We are just very fortunate that we have the depth that we have and I’m going to count on them to play really well, and I’m not counting on anything taking a backward step,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

Here’s what else to know about the Falcons and Seahawks meeting for the third time in 13 months:

MISSING SHERMAN: Jones has said he enjoys his matchups with Seattle, so it was no surprise when he said he’d miss not being able to play against the injured Sherman this week.

“It’s always fun,” Jones said. “We always have a good time because we always battle each and every play. Sherman is a guy who’s going to try to stay on me the whole game. A lot of times guys start playing me and then they get off and get some help. Sherman is not one of those guys.”

FILLING IN: The Seahawks will lean heavily on Jeremy Lane to step in for Sherman. Lane was originally traded to Houston as part of the Brown deal, but failed his physical with the Texans and was returned to the Seahawks. It’s turned out to be a huge benefit for Seattle to have an experienced veteran to take over with Sherman now lost for the season.

Seattle also signed veteran Byron Maxwell to add depth in the secondary. Maxwell started his career in Seattle before spending time in Philadelphia and Miami.

SARK RETURNS: The trip to Seattle brings Atlanta offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian back to the Pacific Northwest. Sarkisian was the head coach at nearby Washington from 2009-13 before leaving for the head job at USC.

Sarkisian is highly regarded for helping turn around a downtrodden Washington program, but was also somewhat lamented in Seattle for never being able to get the Huskies into contention for conference titles.

Sarkisian’s debut in Atlanta is also being somewhat lamented. The Falcons have been inconsistent offensively and are averaging nearly 12 points per game less than a season ago when Kyle Shanahan was coordinating. Shanahan now is head coach in San Francisco.

“Part of the thing that we’ve really dialed in on over the last couple weeks of situation football: third down and the red zone,” Quinn said. “We’ve really tried to put in some extra work in those areas knowing that that’s what needed some attention.”

DEFENSIVE UPSWING: The focus on the decline by the Falcons’ offense has overshadowed improvement by Atlanta’s defense. The Falcons are tied for 10th with their average of 19.9 points allowed, and rank seventh with their average of 311.9 yards allowed per game. They yielded 25.4 points and 371.2 yards per game in 2016.

The Atlanta offense hasn’t recaptured its high-scoring touch from its Super Bowl season. The Falcons are averaging 21.9 points to rank 15th after averaging 33.8 points last season.

FINDING JIMMY: The Seahawks have suddenly made finding Jimmy Graham in the red zone a priority. Graham has six touchdown receptions in the past five games, including two TDs in the win over Arizona. It was his 15th career multi-touchdown game and second in three games after Graham had two TD catches in the win over Houston. Graham has already matched his touchdown total from the entire 2016 regular season.


For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide