Where do the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons go from here?
- Updated: October 22, 2012
With the Atlanta Falcons at 6-0 and the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, you’d think their fans would be jumping for joy.
But alas, fans of Atlanta sports have had their hearts broken too many times to get too high on their teams until they find a way to win a meaningful game.
Since general manager Thomas Dimitroff inaugurated a new era in 2008, hiring head coach Mike Smith and drafting quarterback Matt Ryan 3rd overall, the Falcons have enjoyed one of the best regular-season records in the league. Postseason success has remained elusive, however, with Atlanta going 0-3 in playoff games. Admittedly, they have faced some tough match-ups in those games; every team that beat them has gone on to the Super Bowl that year, with the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants winning it all.
So how do the Falcons buck that trend and make it to the promised land this season?
- The defense must stop the run. They are currently ranked 29th in the league for rushing yardage allowed. That won’t cut it in the postseason.
- Running back Michael Turner needs to start converting in short-yardage situations.
- The wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs must cut down on the drops. They have dropped 10 passes already this season.
- They must put their arch division rival New Orleans Saints out of their misery. Even though they are currently perched atop the NFC South, they must still contend with the Saints in order to make it to the next level.
Atlanta already has the inside track to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they can tighten things up, they should have no problem seizing home-field advantage in the NFC, which would make them the favorites to reach the Super Bowl.
The only three teams capable of beating the Falcons in the Georgia Dome right now are the Packers, Saints and Giants. Both Green Bay and New York have tough roads ahead of them, as the Packers must leapfrog the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, while the Giants face an intense battle in the closely contested NFC East. That’s why it is so important for Atlanta to eliminate New Orleans as soon as possible.
The good news
Fortunately for the Falcons, defensive tackle Corey Peters, a stout run stuffer, is due to come of the Physically Unable to Perform after being sidelined for the entire preseason with a stress fracture in his foot.
Moreover, the performance of their secondary has been encouraging, as safeties Thomas Decloud and William Moore are having Pro Bowl caliber seasons, cornerback Dunta Robinson has improved his play this year, and cornerback Asante Samuel has provided invaluable leadership.
Outside linebacker Sean Witherspoon should also make his first Pro Bowl after this season, and defensive end John Abraham is in position to make his fourth appearance in Hawaii.
And we can’t forget about the offense, which isn’t without superstars of its own. Wide receiver Roddy White is having a good season (37 catches, 553 yards, four touchdowns), tight end Tony Gonzalez is playing like it’s 1999 (43 receptions, 430 yards, four touchdowns), and as everyone knows, wide receiver Julio Jones could erupt at any moment and be right back in the Pro Bowl conversation. But the biggest credit has to go to the man who is at the moment the leading candidate for MVP, quarterback Matt Ryan. He has already mounted three come-from-behind and go-ahead wins, two in the final minute of play.
Falcons fans have much to look forward to, as the best is yet to come. Atlanta will go 6-4 in their final 10 games to finish with a 12-4 record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
@michaelprokop Thanks guys I have another post on Vick and his lasting effect on the Falcons and the League that will be up later this week