The Atlanta Falcons earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record during the 2012 NFL regular season. The honor may come back to bite them, however, as Atlanta will now have to play host this Sunday to a Seattle Seahawks squad arguably playing as well as any team in the league.
The Seahawks ride into Sunday's game on a six-game winning streak. Last weekend, they beat the Washington Redskins, 24-14, to earn their first playoff road win since the 1983 season. The Seahawks have held each of their last six opponents to 17 opponents or less while winning by an average of almost 24 points per game.
An outstanding defense has taken a lot of pressure off quarterback Russell Wilson, though there is little evidence that he is capable of being fazed. He is up for Rookie of the Year honors after tying Peyton Manning's rookie record of 26 passing touchdowns during the regular season. Against the Redskins, Wilson passed for 187 yards and a touchdown and tacked on another 67 yards on the ground.
One of the most important matchups of the game will be the Falcons' passing attack versus an excellent Seahawks secondary. Seattle intercepted 18 passes while giving up just 15 passing touchdowns on the season. Matt Ryan has been better than the average passer this season, however, finishing with the fifth best passer rating in the NFL during the regular season.
The game is sure to be a tight one, in which case the crowd could make a big difference. The Falcons are 7-1 at home this season. All five of the Seahawks' losses this season have come on the road.
Game time: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, Jan. 13
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
Line: Falcons by 2.5 points