Falcons get Seahawks again -- and will interference be called this time?

The Falcons will play Seattle in the divisional playoffs next Saturday at the Georgia Dome by virtue of the Seahawks' 26-6 win over the Detroit Lions Saturday. A few immediate thoughts on the match-up:

• This is a rematch of a divisional playoff game in 2012. The Falcons blew leads of 20-0 at halftime and 27-7 after three quarters, gave up three straight touchdowns to fall behind 28-27 then rallied to win 30-28 on a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 23 seconds left. That game would prove to be ominous foreshadowing for the NFC championship game against San Francisco the following week, when the Falcons led 17-0 and 24-14 but were shut out in the second half and lost 28-24. This year's Falcons' offense is better than the 2012 offense, but the team still has something to prove in the postseason.

• Question: Do the Seahawks ever have a pass interference call go against them? They benefited from at least two non-calls against Detroit (although that's not the only reason the Lions lost). The Falcons know about non-calls. Below are video highlights from the regular season meeting between the teams (won by Seattle 26-24 in October). Many of the highlights focus on the Julio Jones-Richard Sherman match-up. If you jump ahead to the 14:30 mark of the highlights, you'll see Sherman get away with an interference call after clearly pulling down Jones during a long pass play with 1:30 left in the game. A penalty (or catch) would've given the Falcons a first down around the Seahawks' 35-yard line, already in position for a potential go-ahead field goal. Seattle has one of the NFL's best defenses, but it's reputation for getting away with plays like this is well-founded.

• If the Falcons are going to win and advance to the NFC championship, they will need to run the ball better than Detroit. The Lions gained only 49 yards rushing on 15 attempts (3.27 per carry). Conversely, Seattle totaled 177 yards rushing, including 161 and a touchdown by Thomas Rawls. The Falcons have prided themselves on having a balanced off this season. They'll need to do more than ride the passing attack led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will need to play major roles against a Seattle defense that finished the season fifth in yards allowed, seventh against the run and third in points (18.3).

• The importance of Freeman and Coleman aside -- yes, Ryan will be the focus. He has had an MVP-caliber season with 38 touchdown passes, only seven interceptions, 4,944 yards and a league-bests of 9.26 yards per attempt and a 117.1 efficiency rating. However, he's only 1-4 in career playoff games (the win coming in that frantic finish against Seattle). In five playoff games, he has nine touchdown passes with seven interceptions, 11 sacks, an 85.2 rating and has averaged only 6.68 yards per attempt. Ryan has been the centerpiece of the league's highest-scoring offense (33.8 points) but he will need to have a strong game to validate the season he just had.

• Quarterback Russell Wilson, tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Douglas Baldwin are all veterans who know how to win playoff games. They'll be a tough test for the young members of the Falcons' defense: Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Jalen Collins and De'Vondre Campbell. The defense has been improving despite the absence of injured cornerback Desmond Trufant. But the Seahawks are better offensively than some of the teams the Falcons played down the stretch of the season (Kansas City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Carolina). They looked good for three quarters in the finale against New Orleans but allowed three fourth-quarter touchdowns (albeit, after the game was out of reach, 38-13).

The Falcons have opened as a four-point favorite. My pick: Falcons by a touchdown.

EARLIER: Want a parade, Atlanta? Falcons are your best hope

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