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Falcons vs. Seahawks: 5 Questions to Ask Ahead of Sunday's Game

The Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks are both chasing a win Sunday in hopes to shed their early-season troubles. But which team will come out on top?

The Atlanta Falcons are one sleep away from facing the Seattle Seahawks in hopes of the team's first win of the season.

Before the game kicks off, we spoke with All Seahawks contributor Corbin Smith to learn more about the Seahawks heading into tomorrow's game ...

1. A lot has changed for the Seahawks from last year. Apart from Russell Wilson being traded, what has been the biggest change?

Smith: Obviously, no change has been more impactful for Seattle than transitioning from Wilson to Geno Smith, who hadn't been a full-time starter in seven years. But through two games, the defense has endured some challenges acclimating to a hybrid 3-4 scheme, particularly when it comes to defending the run. The defensive line and linebackers have struggled to work in concert with run fits, leading to huge creases for opposing running backs to explode through, while tackling at all three levels has been shoddy at best. Add in a few blown coverages and back-breaking penalties at inopportune times, and new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt's unit has been an inconsistent mess to start the season.

2. If the Seahawks win on Sunday, what will be the reason why?

Smith: It's going to sound elementary, but the Seahawks simply have to find a way to score some points. They're in the midst of six quarters without scoring a single point. They haven't been able to establish the run and currently rank dead-last in the league in rushing yards, which is the type of stat that would keep the ever-optimistic Pete Carroll up at night. While Smith has completed 81 percent of his passes, he's near the bottom of the league in yards per attempt and has only three completions of more than 20 yards so far. As Carroll indicated earlier this week, they need to open things up for their quarterback and see if they can stretch the defense out with explosive pass plays to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, which in turn should help wake up the rushing attack. If they can do that on Sunday, they have a great chance to get on track against the Falcons.

3. If the Seahawks lose on Sunday, what will be the reason why?

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Smith: Aside from the offense remaining inept and creating few issues for the opponent, Seattle's defense continues to be plagued by poor tackling and run fit miscues up front, allowing Cordarrelle Patterson and Atlanta's ground game to get rolling early. Teams that have ran the ball well typically fare better dealing with the crowd noise at Lumen Field in the past, creating play action opportunities for the Falcons to stretch out the Seahawks defense with the likes of Kyle Pitts and Drake London. That would be a recipe for disaster in this contest.

4. Who is one X-Factor on offense and defense to watch for the Seahawks?

Smith: It's odd calling Darrell Taylor an X-Factor given the high expectations the third-year pass rusher held coming into the season, but he's been a relative non-factor in the first two weeks and needs to play up to his potential. Possessing elite burst off the edge, he should be a problematic draw for right tackle Kaleb McGary, but he has to play with greater physicality and do a better job of setting the edge and finishing tackles. On offense, Noah Fant has had a quiet start to his Seahawks career, but the athletic tight end could have ideal matchups working over the middle against Atlanta's linebackers and safeties with Metcalf and Lockett drawing so much attention on the outside.

5. What's your prediction for the game?

Smith: Both of these franchises find themselves in similar positions transitioning from star quarterbacks with young, rebuilding rosters. On one hand, neither team looks like a potential playoff contender and both have extensive holes on each side of the ball. But on the flip side, there are several exciting rookies who will be featured in this game and provide a glimpse towards the future for each organization. I expect it to be a barnburner between two bottom-dwelling teams that play hard for their respective coaches and ultimately, Seattle will sneak out on top with a 25-21 win behind a bit of a bounce-back performance from Smith and the run game.


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