Atlanta Falcons Digital Content Producer Kelsey Conway provides a closer look at the Seattle Seahawks' Divisional round opponent:
1. A lot has been said about the differences of these two teams since they last met in Week 6. From your perspective, what makes the Falcons a harder challenge this time around outside of injuries?
Conway: Like you said, both of these teams are completely different at this point in the season. Since the Week 6 matchup, I think the Falcons have improved on both sides of the ball. The offense has been better in the red zone and on third down, and in the past month, Atlanta's defense has played with more confidence and better communication, that's helped them play some of their best ball down the stretch.
2. How has offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan helped Matt Ryan perform at an MVP-level this season?
Conway:Both Kyle Shanahan and Ryan have been asked how they've been able to work together so well this season and they both will say it comes down to their improved communication with one another and Ryan's comfort in his second year in this offense. Ryan also has a plethora of offensive weapons to utilize, something that's also played a big role in the production this offense has been able to have this season.
3. The Falcons obviously use Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman out of the backfield well, but their carries and usage have become more even split this year. Why has that been the case?
Conway: Freeman and Coleman are two different type of backs who bring different skill sets to the table. Both running backs can make impact plays for this season, in different ways. The Falcons have used Coleman in the passing game a lot, and they've seen great success from that. Coleman being able to take some of the load off of Freeman has helped as well. They have a really unique dynamic, and they are each other's biggest supporters.
4. Atlanta's offensive line has quietly become one of the best in the league. How much of this matchup will be determined by the battle between their o-line and Seattle's defensive one?
Conway:Last time these teams met, Atlanta's offensive line struggled in the first half. Ryan was sacked four times — something we've rarely seen this year. The line of scrimmage play could be a real factor in this game because of Seattle's proven ability to get to opponents' quarterbacks. The continuity the Falcons' offensive line has is a big reason to why they've been able to play so well down the stretch.
5. Finally, who could be a real x-factor for the Falcons on Saturday?
Conway: I'm going to go with a group, not a specific player. I think Atlanta's offensive line is going to be the x-factor on Saturday. When Ryan has time in the pocket, he's been one of, if not, the most efficient quarterback in the NFL this year. Also, if the offensive line can open up holes for Freeman and Coleman to get going, they make this offense extremely hard to defend.