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The Falcons have something to prove this postseason.
Perhaps, no team will be playing with a bigger chip on their shoulder than the Falcons this weekend.
No matter what the Falcons did this year, they were cast aside because they have yet to win a playoff game with Smith as a coach.
It didn't matter what they did during the regular season. They weren't going to get any respect until they won a playoff game.
While one can understand the Falcons have to prove it in the playoffs, the lack of respect paid to the Falcons throughout the year was mind-boggling.
Case in point.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report's NFL Draft lead writer, conducts power rankings each week.
For most of the season, the Falcons were at or near the top. They lost to the Saints in Week 10 and only dropped to No. 2.
However, the next week, they beat the Cardinals and still dropped another spot. The following week, they beat the Bucs and dropped yet another spot.
The Falcons lost in Week 14 and dropped in No. 7, although they still had an 11-2 record...the best in the league.
A win over the Giants the next week bumped them up one spot.
By the end of the regular season, the Falcons ranked sixth. From Miller's story:
With the most wins in the NFC, Mike Smith and his Atlanta Falcons will enjoy home-field advantage as long as they are in the playoffs. After a Week 17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's fair to wonder just how long that will be.
This is only one example as Miller isn't the only one to knock the Falcons throughout the year. In fact, most pundits did.
However, all the doubters (or haters...whichever you prefer) have put a chip on the Falcons' shoulders. That alone will play in their minds on Sunday afternoon.