The Dirty Birds sit at 6-4 and in second place of the NFC South, looking up at the division-leading New Orleans Saints. Although the Saints are only a game ahead of Atlanta, they won the first head-to-head meeting in the ATL between the teams, so there's a bit more of a hill to climb than merely the one game.
Of course, with the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and 75 percent of the NFC East still hard-charging toward the playoffs, it might be a division title or bust in Atlanta. That means that the Falcons can't afford to lose any more gimmes...like, say, a home game against a woeful cellar-dweller. The Minnesota Vikings fit that description, but so far, the Vikes have made a decent game of it despite trailing by a 17-0 score.
Have no fear, though, as there's minimal cause for concern in the new center for black culture (if you equate mediocre hip-hop and Tyler Perry with "black culture," that is). With these five halftime adjustments, the Falcons can pull away and focus on their next challenge.
1. Michael Turner, Michael Turner and More Michael Turner
It pains me to say this, because I'm facing him in one of my fantasy matchups, but running back Michael Turner is by far Atlanta's most attractive offensive option. Quarterback Matt Ryan is having an unsteady year behind center, and the receiving corps is either banged up or underachieving.
So, give it to the bowling ball with legs and get out of his way (unless you're blocking for him).
2. Use Jason Snelling in the Flats
Jason Snelling is listed as a running back by ESPN. He's also listed as 5'11" and 234 pounds—to which I say, yikes! The Falcons have handed him the ball a couple times, and he looks shiftier than he should be. I'd like to see what that big fella could do with a bit more room to operate.
3. Show That Harry Douglas Is a Better Talent Than His Name Suggests
Harry Douglas sounds like he should be an accountant or otherwise carrying a briefcase, not catching touchdown passes in the NFL. But for the last few weeks, Douglas has arguably been the Falcons' best receiver. Roddy White's having a down year, and Julio Jones came up lame after a hot start, which has the door for Douglas.
And he's been only too happy to oblige.
So, keep going to the well and reward the third-year player.
4. Lock Down Percy Harvin
Let's face it: the biggest challenge for Atlanta's defense might be avoiding ennui. As much as the Stanford Cardinal in me loves Toby Gerhart, he's not going to carry an NFL game plan by himself.
That leaves wide receiver Percy Harvin as the most dangerous man on the field.
Shut him down and the outcome is a formality.
5. Don't Get Too Fancy
Again, the Atlanta Falcons are the better team and have been hinting at that fact throughout the first half. In all sincerity, they've got this game in the bag as long as they don't do anything stupid. So, keep the tricks in the bag, protect the pigskin and keep the laundry off the field.
And enjoy the win.