Writers from The Seattle Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution pick Sunday's winner.
Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer
Seahawks 28, Falcons 21
Though the Falcons won their first eight games and finished the regular season tied with the best record in the NFL, the Seahawks have been a better and, most important, a more complete team the past two months. Because the Falcons don’t run the ball well anymore, it puts even more pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan, who has yet to win a playoff game. The Falcons are too dependent on Ryan playing well, and the Seahawks defense will do just enough to limit his efficiency and keep him winless in the postseason.
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Falcons 34, Seahawks 31
The Steelers and Packers have recently won Super Bowls as wild-card teams. But the home team has won 75 percent of the time in this round of the playoffs. The Seahawks show how much their offense has grown from the first five games of this season when Seattle failed to score 20 points in four of those games. But the Falcons show Seattle how much further it has to go to take that next step.
Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley
Seahawks 24, Falcons 10
Seahawks jump out to a quick 10-0 lead and the Georgia Dome grows as quiet as the 18th green at Augusta on the final day of the Masters. By the beginning of the fourth quarter the Hawks lead 24-3 and the place is empty. Next …
Seattle Times reporter Larry Stone
Seahawks 24, Falcons 20
Atlanta’s offense provides a formidable challenge, but I think the Seahawks will be the looser team and will prevail in a close game. The matchup of WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White vs. CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will be the key.
Michael Cunningham, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Falcons 27, Seahawks 20
The Falcons are tired of hearing about their playoff failures. They are good enough and, finally, mentally strong enough to do something about it.
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Falcons 35, Seahawks 13
Matt Ryan makes good use of his weapons and shreds Seattle’s aggressive secondary. The run defense stands up to Marshawn Lynch and deactivates “Beast Mode.”
Jeffrey Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Falcons 30, Seahawks 17
Despite the success of Seattle’s secondary, I don’t see them handling the triple receiving threat of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. Fatigue also will be a factor for Seattle after playing last week on the road while the Falcons had a bye.
Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Falcons 21, Seahawks 17
Because they’re not the team with the rookie quarterback. Because they have the defense that has confounded three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. And because they’re way past due.