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NFC West Report Week 6: Seattle Seahawks

The Julio Jones/Richard Sherman matchup dominated week 6 headlines for good reason.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks pulled off their 3rd straight win, and after a Rams loss continue holding complete control of the NFC West.

NFC West Standings through Week 6.

Week 6 Outcome: 26-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons (4-2)

This was probably the best matchup of a Week 6 NFL slate that saw 40 percent of games decided by three points or less. The chess match of No. 1 offense (Atlanta) vs No. 1 defense (Seattle) did not disappoint. Richard Sherman shadowed Julio Jones much of the game, and that matchup had a huge impact on the outcome. The Seahawks defense has transitioned over the last two years, asking Sherman to shadow elite WR’s much more often compared to his early career. Players don’t come any more elite than Jones, the NFL’s leading receiver. Jones caught 7 passes for 139 yards and a TD Sunday, but on the decisive play of the game Sherman held Jones’ arm preventing a 4th down conversion. The non-call of pass interference has received a ton of scrutiny this week.

The game went back and forth most of the day. Seattle jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead, but the Falcons opened the second half by scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions to go ahead 24-17. The Seahawks answered with a 4th quarter TD, but Steven Hauschka’s extra point attempt was blocked, leaving them down 24-23. The next Atlanta drive ended with a Matt Ryan pass bouncing off the hands of Jones, deflecting off of Sherman, and into the arms of Earl Thomas. That interception set up Seattle’s game winning field goal.

NFL MVP frontrunner Matt Ryan threw for 335 yards, three touchdowns with one pick against a Seahawks defense missing Cam Chancellor. Ryan also made a critical mistake on the final Atlanta possession. Facing 3rd & 10, Ryan was presented with a wide open field to scramble for 8-10 yards, either gaining a first down, or setting up a 4th and short. Instead, Ryan threw an incomplete pass, setting up the fateful 4th down throw to Jones.

Next up: @ Arizona Cardinals (3-3)

Fans of good defense will love this one, as both team rank in the NFL’s Top 5, Seattle at No. 1 and Arizona at No. 5. The last two weeks has seen the Arizona Cardinals force their opposition to make changes to struggling quarterbacks. In Week 5 it was Blaine Gabbert, and in Week 6 it was the human turnover machine known as Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s safe to say that Russell Wilson won’t face a similar fate, but the Cardinals defense is very very good.

The big matchup of the day will be David Johnson, 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards, against a Seattle’s 3rd ranked run defense. In the last two weeks, David Johnson has run wild for 268 and six touchdowns. In their last 33 games, the Seahawks have only allowed one 100 yard rusher, Carlos Hyde.

If Arizona can win at home, they’ve suddenly dug out of disastrous 1-3 start to get to 4-3, and still very much alive in the hunt for the NFC West crown. If Seattle wins, might as well write them in to represent the division in the playoffs.

Biggest headlines:

The Seahawks have been hit hard with injuries this season. Cam Chancellor and Frank Clark sat out Sunday, and Michael Bennett and Luke Wilson both sustained injuries during the game. Thomas Rawls is still recovering from a broken fibula, and Russell Wilson still isn’t 100 percent after suffering various sprains.

For the first time since 2010, the Seahawks offense went a full game without a penalty. That’s a streak of 96 consecutive games (including the playoffs) that the offense had drawn at least one flag.

The Seahawks rushing woes haven’t received much attention this year, but the team is 25th in rushing yards per game, and 29th in yards per attempt. Seattle is typically near the top of the league in both categories. The retirement of Marshawn Lynch, offensive line struggles, and injuries to Thomas Rawls and Russell Wilson have impacted the run offense immensely. Wilson has rushed for only 7 yards per game this season.