The Falcons won their eighth game in a row and their third road win in as many weeks and the Falcons are looking like a lock for the number one seed. With two regular season games left in the 2010 Season the Falcons hold a two game lead on the Saints and Eagles and will only need one win to clinch home-field advantage and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Considering the fact that the Falcons get the 2-12 Carolina Panthers at home in the last week of the season. But the Falcons would like to get the No. 1 seed clinched before that game is played. They can do that with a Monday Night victory next week over the New Orleans Saints in the Georgia Dome. Playoffstatus.com currently lists the Falcons chances of getting the No. 1 seed at 99%
On Sunday the Falcons clinched a playoff berth with a win, but they had already clinched moments after the kickoff due to the Giants heartbreaking loss to the Eagles. This didn’t stop the Falcons from putting out a dominating effort against the Seahawks. One word can describe what the Falcons offense did in the first half against the Seahawks, as well as the better part of the season. That word is methodical. They run an offense that doesn’t rely on big plays, they just move down the field methodically. Look at these stats for Falcons scoring drives in the first half:
1st Scoring Drive: 15 plays, 51 yards, 8:14 elapsed: 3 yard TD pass from Matt Ryan to Jason Snelling
2nd Scoring Drive: 14 plays, 40 yards, 7:16 elapsed: Matt Bryant 27 yard FG
3rd Scoring Drive: 13 plays, 85 yards, 1:46 elapsed: 27 yard TD pass from Matt Ryan to Michael Jenkins
The Falcons offense isn’t based on throwing the ball 30 yards down the field, they rely on the short passing game led by Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez. But if they have a third and long they have the ability to throw to Roddy White and Michael Jenkins. But they also have a strong running game behind Michael Turner and Jason Snelling. Not only is this offense balanced, but they also dominate the game in regards to time of possession. The Falcons held the ball for 35 minutes to the Seahawks 25.
That’s what the Falcons do, and I haven’t even talked about how the Falcons defense forced 2 turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown. The Falcons go out and win games, and they win games at home and on the road. If the Falcons win 1 of their next 2 games at home, the Falcons will only need to win 2 more games at Georgia Dome and the Falcons will be going to Dallas.
A win yesterday means that the Falcons are one win away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. A Falcons win yesterday means that the Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith has now won 32 games in his first three seasons as an NFL Head Coach. That is something that no other head coach has done in the history of the NFL, period. Bill Belichick won 20 games in his first three seasons, Vince Lombardi won 26, Bill Parcells won 22, Jimmy Johnson won 19, and Don Shula won 30 games. I am not saying that Mike Smith is in no way, shape, or form better than these coaches, but his record to start his career is quite impressive.
Also, Matt Ryan is now 32-12 in his first 3 seasons in the NFL, which has only been done once since the AFL-NFL merger. His name is Dan Marino, who went 33-10. If Matty Ice can win his final two games against the Saints and the Panthers Ryan will end up with 34 wins. The Atlanta Falcons have built a team that will not only compete this year, but in the years to come. Mark this down, December 21, 2010. We are about to enter into the golden ages of the Atlanta Falcons franchise. This team is centered around a young QB in Matt Ryan, a young WR in Roddy White, and a young Head Coach in Mike Smith. Saying these are going to be the golden years of the Falcons franchise isn’t saying much considering the fact that before Mike Smith was named Falcons head coach there had not been back to back winning seasons in the history of the franchise, but back to the current season and their current goals.
Although the Falcons only need a win against the Panthers to lock up home-field, they would much rather do it against the defending Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints in the Georgia Dome in front of their fans. And how sweet would that be. The atmosphere leading up to this game will be incredible. It is the last Monday Night Football game of the year features the defending Super Bowl Champions and the 12-2, NFC-leading Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are 6-0 at home this year, and under Mike Smith and Matt Ryan the Falcons are 19-1 (One of the victories Matt Ryan started the game, but was injured in the first half, so that is why some other people will say that Matt Ryan is 18-1) at the Georgia Dome. But regardless, Matt Ryan and the Falcons are tough to beat at home, and the Falcons have a good shot at locking up the division before they even play the Panthers with a win over the Saints. The Falcons know that they have this card in their hand, but they would rather not play it.
12-2 is a record that speaks for itself, the national media (ESPN, FOX) might not be giving the Falcons any respect or credit, but that doesn’t matter. During last night’s Monday Night Football game during “The Fastest Three Minutes” at halftime, the Falcons highlights were never played. But the Bengals-Browns, Lions-Bucs, and Dolphins-Bills highlights were all shown. Considering the fact that ESPN didn’t mention this during this segment and knowing that Sunday Atlanta was the only NFC team to clinch a playoff spot is nothing other than embarrassing. But the Falcons don’t care, it simply doesn't matter.
Games aren’t won in the media, they are won on the field. If you don’t believe that ask the Vikings, Cowboys, Redskins, and Bengals. The Falcons are a boring team. They don’t have the T.Ochocinco Show, the Rex Ryan press conferences, the divide in a locker room or any remote drama off the field. They don’t have players calling out coaches, or coaches calling out players. They are a team that just goes out each and every Sunday and they play football. The Falcons don’t make mistakes, they create them. They control the clock and the game behind their balanced and methodical offensive attack. They are simply consistently better than everyone else in the NFC and that is why they have 2 more wins than everyone else in the NFC. Are the Falcons beatable, absolutely, but then again so is every team in the NFL. The Falcons are just a very hard team to beat because of what they do and how well they do it. If the Falcons do what the Falcons have done in the regular season in the playoffs, the Falcons will go to Dallas.