SEATTLE -- As dire as things have gotten on the injury front for the Seattle Seahawks, they could be a first-place team after Monday night.
In need of a break after losing Richard Sherman and likely Kam Chancellor for the remainder of the season, the Seahawks got one Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams snapped their four-game win streak with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, dropping the Rams to 7-3 overall.
Seattle (6-3) can pull even with Los Angeles by beating the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Seahawks own the tiebreaker by virtue of beating the Rams in Week 5, so a win against Atlanta would put Seattle in first place in the NFC West.
The Seahawks currently occupy the NFC's sixth and final playoff spot. They're only separated by either one or two wins from the teams in the second through fifth spots. And one of those teams, the Rams, entered Week 11 with the second-hardest remaining schedule.
But the Seahawks have a tough road ahead. From Week 13 to Week 16, Seattle faces four of the highest-scoring offenses in the NFL: vs. Philadelphia, at Jacksonville, vs. the Rams and at Dallas, which will have Ezekiel Elliott back by then. Not having Sherman and likely Chancellor will make those matchups even more challenging.
The Seahawks will get their first look at what life is like without those two defensive stalwarts Monday night. Jeremy Lane will take over for Sherman at left cornerback while Bradley McDougald will start at strong safety for Chancellor, and they won't exactly get a soft landing against wide receiver Julio Jones and reigning MVP Matt Ryan.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Seahawks would have an estimated 85 percent chance to reach the playoffs with a win over the Falcons. A loss would drop it to 58 percent, per FPI.
Here's a closer look at the Seahawks-Falcons matchup:
By the numbers
3,827. Scrimmage yards since the start of the 2015 season for Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who's out Monday night because of a concussion. That's the third-most scrimmage yards in the league in that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only Steelers receiver Antonio Brown (4,181) and Julio Jones (3,995) have more. Only having to contend with one-half of Atlanta's backfield duo -- Tevin Coleman -- will be a break for a Seattle defense that is still going to have its hands full.
11. Of Adrian Peterson's 21 rushing attempts last week, Seattle loaded the box with eight or more defenders on 11 of them, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Those 11 attempts gained only 9 yards. The Seahawks held Peterson to 29 yards rushing overall, his worst output in a game in which he had at least 20 carries. It was a masterful performance by Seattle's run defense, but it won't be easy to replicate this week, even with Freeman out. Adding a defender to the box means taking one out of coverage, which can leave a defense vulnerable on the back end. The Seahawks could take their chances last week against a backup quarterback in Drew Stanton. It's not as viable of a strategy against Ryan, especially without Sherman and Chancellor.
.860. Since Pete Carroll's first season in 2010, the Seahawks are 21-3-1 in prime-time games for an .860 winning percentage that ranks first in the NFL in that span. They've outscored opponents 649-332 in those 27 games, and they've been especially tough at home, going 13-1 at CenturyLink Field. It's one of the most pronounced trends of the Carroll-era Seahawks, and it's not a product of any altered approach to prime-time games. By the way, Seattle has the best all-time record on Monday night at 23-8 (.742 winning percentage), which includes 11 straight wins.
Freeney watch: With 125.5 career sacks, Dwight Freeney needs one more to tie Derrick Thomas for 16th on the all-time list. The 37-year-old defensive end has three sacks in three games for Seattle while averaging 28 snaps. He signed with Seattle in late October after a deal to return to Atlanta, where he played last season, never materialized.
Injury notes: In addition to Sherman and Chancellor, five other Seahawks weren't able to finish last week's game vs. Arizona because of injuries. Left tackle Duane Brown (ankle) and defensive tackle Jarran Reed (hamstring) are listed as questionable and will be game-time decisions, per Carroll. Brown didn't practice last week. His potential absence is particularly worrisome after Adrian Clayborn had his way with Dallas' backup left tackles last week, beating them for six sacks of Dak Prescott. Matt Tobin is Brown's backup. Seattle will be without starting strongside linebacker Michael Wilhoite (calf), so Terence Garvin will start. Eddie Lacy (groin) will be back after missing last week's game, but it's not clear if he'll resume the starting role he had just been given when he got hurt in Week 9. Seattle promoted Mike Davis from the practice squad this week, so expect him to be in the mix to some degree along with Thomas Rawls and third-down back J.D. McKissic.
Weather check: Weather.com's forecast calls for a game-time temperate of 46 degrees, 4 mph winds and only a 5 percent chance of rain after showers throughout the day. So the conditions shouldn't be as bad as they were for Seattle's last home game, a Week 9 loss to Washington. Wind and rain didn't do the Seahawks any favors that day. Seattle dropped two interceptions and botched a quarterback-center exchange, while Blair Walsh missed all three of his field goal attempts.