The decisive victory the Seahawks scored over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday is one that put many fears of the Seahawks fanbase to rest. Seattle dominated the way they were supposed to and, perhaps more importantly, they did it on the road. After some tough wins over the Rams and Buccaneers it was definitely nice to see a comfortable win from a team that should be capable of delivering one most weeks. That being said, while there was a tangible overreaction to the Seahawks cutting it close in Weeks 8 and 9 there might have also been an overreaction to their win on Sunday. Some of the concerns about this team were largely laid to rest in Atlanta, but not all of them.
The offensive line looked very competent for the first time in a long time. This won’t be especially relevant long term as it was a unit comprised of 3 backups so this isn’t the line Seattle will be using in the playoffs. Okung and Giacomini are on the way back, as is Max Unger, but it’s good to know that the second string players can flash starting ability. It is safe to assume, at least for now, that we are not going to see this unit tossed about like rag dolls down the stretch the way they were in St. Louis. While this position group could use some reinforcements in the offseason it is holding steady for now.
More shocking than the struggles of the Seahawks injury riddled offensive line in 2013 has been their issues with defending the run. So far, this team has allowed 4.2 yards per carry and 111 yards per game. Those numbers aren’t great but they were much worse in Weeks 8 and 9 where this team allowed 200+ rushing yards both weeks. Last week they allowed only 64 yards rushing to the Falcons so it might feel reasonable to consider that issue fixed, the problem is that such a performance isn’t really extraordinary against Atlanta.
The Atlanta Falcons are the worst running team in the NFL. They have averaged 64.3 yards per game on the ground and have reached that exact number twice. This is a team that has cracked 100 yards rushing once and has been held below 40 rushing yards three times. Lead back Steven Jackson is a zombified version of his former self and Jacquizz Rodgers is talented but doesn’t carry the load. In short there is nothing impressive about stopping this run game.
The Minnesota Vikings are coming to town this week and they will present a real challenge for this run defense. It so happens that they have an awfully good running back by the name of Adrian Peterson. The last time Peterson was in town he rushed for 182 yards on 17 carries, so he presents a massive challenge. Minnesota has only failed to reach 100 yards on the ground three times this year and given that Peterson is their best/only weapon the Seahawks can count on seeing a lot of him all day.
Although the Seahawks run defense looked impressive last week, it is impossible to tell if that performance is predictive of what this defense can do against the run going forward. The Falcons’ legendary ineptitude in the ground game makes that picture awfully hazy. Even a struggling defense could keep that rushing atttack in check. This week the Seahawks front seven will face a monumental test in the form of Adrian Peterson. If they can contain Minnesota’s superstar then it’s safe to call the struggles in run defense against the Rams and Bucs a blip. If Peterson runs all over this team, like he did in his last trip to Seattle, then it’s back to the drawing board.