Are the 4-0 Atlanta Falcons Good or Just Lucky?
The Atlanta Falcons are 4-0 to start the 2012 season. However, unlike some other teams that have started undefeated, they hold that status due to their talent and execution, not from luck.
Lucky teams win on fluke plays and get calls from the refs that hand them the game, like the Monday Night Football call that brought the refs back.
So let's break down the Falcons' season, game-by-game, to show that their great season so far is not a product of luck but rather of great execution.
Opening Day vs. Kansas City
For the first half of the Falcons game in Kansas City, they traded scores back and forth. Then halftime came, and the team adjusted. The momentum shift started with a sack and forced fumble by John Abraham to set up a quick-strike touchdown to Tony Gonzalez.
Another pair of interceptions caused by great plays on the ball and pressure on Matt Cassel shifted the momentum as a whole to the Falcons. When a team is leading 40-17 with 15 seconds left in the game, that's talent—not luck—winning the game. The Falcons won this one 40-24.
Monday Night Football vs. Denver
On each of the first three drives, the Falcons intercepted Peyton Manning. It wasn't due to bad throws by Manning, either. It was due to him getting baited by the defense and having routes jumped on well-thrown balls.
The Falcons were up 27-7 heading into the fourth quarter, and the defense held out to win the game—despite a comeback attempt from one of the best quarterbacks ever. Good teams hold on to win and thwart comeback attempts. Lucky teams don't. Falcons won here, 27-21.
The Road Trip to San Diego
The Falcons went into San Diego and stomped the Chargers. They won 27-3. It was never even close. The game was over after the initial drive and the Falcons scoring the first touchdown. The Falcons continued the defensive shutdown in San Diego with another four turnovers.
The Falcons traveled cross-country on a short week and then went in and crushed the souls of a Chargers team. Lucky teams don't crush souls. The Falcons were good on offense and great on defense. The Falcons were great here, not lucky.
Protecting the Dome vs. the Panthers
Lucky teams win close games. While the Falcons were able to squeak out a 30-28 victory at home, they didn't win based just on luck. The offensive line played terribly, the defense had trouble stuffing the run and Cam Newton was able to not turn the ball over.
The keys to the game were a pair of defensive stops at the end of the game from the defensive line. On top of that, Matt Ryan and Matt Bryant having ice water running through their veins helped finish the game off completely.
Driving from your own one-yard line to the opposing 23-yard line to set up the game-winning 40-yard field goal not only shows talent, but it's the opposite of lucky. The clutch kick from Matt Bryant that went directly through the center of the uprights shows more talent than luck by far. Clutch teams aren't lucky. They are talented.
Just how far can the Falcons go?
The Atlanta Falcons are not just for real—they could be the best team in the NFL this season. Through four games, they are definitely one of the top offenses in the NFL, and on defense, they are able to make clutch plays when needed.
Call them resilient. Call them talented. Call them determined and well-coached. However, to call these Falcons lucky would be a slight to their play in the first quarter of the season. Lucky teams don't win games with clutch 59-yard catches from their own one-yard line. They also don't pick off Peyton Manning three times early in a game by jumping routes.
This year, though, the Falcons are more than just talented and well-coached. They are aggressive. They are hungry. They play with a swagger and could eventually end up holding the Lombardi Trophy if they can continue how they are playing.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.
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