It is difficult to find fault with a perfect record, but there are a few questions that the Atlanta Falcons have raised by their recent narrow victories.
There is a saying in the stock market that most winners climb a wall of worries. I think this holds true for football as well. The 1972 Miami Dolphins have the only undefeated NFL team in history, but they never dominated nor blew teams away. They, in fact, climbed a wall of worries and narrowly went an entire season without a loss. So much for history.
The Atlanta Falcons started the season looking like they could dominate, but the last two games required coming from behind to win and that was against teams that are not elite. Because of this, there are several questions that must be considered. One is easy to answer and one is a little tough to respond to.
Finally, one question is its own conundrum:
The short answer is no. He made a bonehead throw for a pick six and he missed a few receivers with passes. He missed an open player by not throwing and did a couple of uncharacteristic things. That being said, Matt Ryan is so great that any mistake seems big because he rarely screws up. This guy is almost a machine but not quite. I would not trade him for any quarterback in the league.
2. Is this "Wild Dog" defense going to change every game and are they saving the best for the playoffs?
Yes. I really think Mike Nolan and Mike Smith evaluate the opponents each week and game-plan accordingly. Most teams modify a game plan as needed, but this defense appears to reinvent itself each week. I believe it was a compliment to Payton Manning the way this defense gamed him, and yes, in the playoffs it will be like nothing we have ever seen before. I cannot wait.
Eventually, this defense will run out of tricks, right? I don't think so.
3. When is it impossible for a player to fumble?
Apparently, when a receiver has the football in his hands and takes two steps, he gets hit and drops the ball on the way to the ground. NFL rules say this is an incomplete pass. But if the receiver hits the ground holding the ball and then it pops out, this is down by contact.
The moral to this story is that a defender can cause an incomplete pass, but not a fumble by a receiver unless the receiver has taken more than two steps without being knocked down. Okay, maybe that will never happen again and it won't cause a possession of the ball to be not obtained in a close game.
That one hurts my head just thinking about it.