FLOWERY BRANCH – After shutting down Minnesota, the Falcons’ defense moved into the top 10 for the first time this late in the season under Falcons coach Mike Smith.
A top 10 defense is almost prerequisite to winning a Super Bowl title.
Eleven of the past 15 Super Bowl winners had a defense that ranked in the top 10 during the regular season.
The only non-top 10 ranked Super Bowl winning defenses since the 1996 season were: The 1998 Denver Broncos (11th), the 2001 New England Patriots (24th), the 2006 Indianapolis Colts (21st) and the 2009 New Orleans Saints (25th).
The Falcons are set to face rookie quarterbacks in their next three games and could solidify their spot in the top 10 before they face New Orleans on Dec. 26.
To win the NFC, would have to play much better if they face the passing attacks from Green Bay or New Orleans.
The Falcons gave up 396 yards and two touchdowns to the Packers after jumping out to a 14-0 lead.
They gave up 322 yards passing and two touchdowns against the Saints after holding a 13-10 lead with 5:08 to play in the third quarter.
Defensive end John Abraham hopes that the defensive front and can crank up some heat on quarterbacks over the final five regular season games.
“We don’t have the sacks that we want to, but we are doing a good job on the run,” Abraham said. “In past years, our run numbers have been down. I think we are doing a great job of stopping the run this year.”
The Falcons have a gap control 4-3 scheme.
“The linebacker play has been excellent,” Abraham said. “The safeties, everybody has been really picking their games up. They understand what we are trying to do.”
Abraham, who’s tied for the team lead in sacks (four) with Lawrence Sidbury, would like to see the sacks increase.
“We are a little back in sacks, but as long as you’re not giving up two or three hundred yards you can always give yourself a chance as long as you can stop the run,” Abraham said.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog