Atlanta was blessed with no major injuries for the first half of the season, but the second half was a bit of a different story. The Falcons lost pro-bowl corner Desmond Trufant for the season due to a shoulder injury, and that seemed to only start a domino effect. Big names like Vic Beasley Jr., Jake Matthews and Mohamed Sanu all struggled through some nagging injuries. At this time of the year in the NFL, every team is dealing with injuries, but nobody may have needed this bye as much as the Falcons did.
There really has not been a time this entire season where Julio Jones has been completely healthy. Even when catching for 300 yards against the Panthers, Jones was doing so at less than 100%. Jones has suffered numerous lower leg injuries over the course of the season. Most recently, he missed a couple of games due to a foot injury similar to turf toe.
When Jones returned to play in week 16 against the Panthers, he was clearly not healthy, He only played in 39 snaps out of 63. He caught 4 balls for 60 yards but was primarily used as a decoy in the offense. Jones got back to business in week 17, playing in 49 out of 62 snaps and catching 7 balls for 96 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on nice fade from inside the five yard-line, a play the Falcons went back to later in the game. Jones looked much more like himself in week 17, but with the long grueling season behind them, Atlanta needed to get more healthy overall. Fellow receivers Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu have dealt with injuries down the stretch of the season, and it is critical that those two players are 100% against a defense like Seattle.
Vic Beasley Jr. was another player Falcons fans had their eyes peeled on. Beasley went off in week 17 with an apparent shoulder injury. He played through all of 2015 with a torn labrum to that same shoulder, so the news about that shoulder being injured again was worrisome. Beasley returned to the matchup in week 17 and even recorded a sack but still came out of the game pretty beat up. The extra week has allowed for Beasley to receive some time off, get healthy and he is now reportedly back to full strength. There are not many playmakers on the Falcons defense, but Beasley is one of them, and Atlanta cannot afford to lose him if they want to have Super Bowl aspirations.
Some teams may tell you that they prefer not having the first-round bye in the playoffs. Sometimes it breaks rhythm or the team will come out of the bye slower, but the Falcons desperately needed this bye week. They have several important players getting as close to 100% as they can, and as a team that has been in this situation 3 times in the last last 6 seasons, they should be 100% ready to take on Seattle on Saturday.