Unlike 49ers, the Falcons don’t have a signature win

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes as Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) tries to block the pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes as Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) tries to block the pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

 BIRDLAND — Stayed up through the blackouts to witness the whipping the San Francisco 49ers put on the Pittsburgh Steelers and their one-legged quarterback last night. 

I woke up this morning with a football revelation.

I said to self, “Self, the 49ers are legitimate NFC title contenders.”

Self said to me, “Go blog about that. Tell the World.”

Well World, the 49ers are legitimate NFC title contenders along with Green Bay and New Orleans. They earned their signature win last night and are thus anointed “legitimate NFC title contenders.”

Jim Harbaugh has done a nice job building on the manhood that Mike Singletary instilled in those players when they were younger.

Rookie defensive end Aldon Smith was awesome. San Francisco safety Donte Whitner came up and laid some nice hits on the Pittsburgh receivers. And just think the 49ers didn’t have linebacker Patrick Willis.

The Falcons have been too inconsistent and don’t have that signature win yet. They could get theirs on Monday night. But they can’t just squeak by with a field goal at the end. A signature win entails beating down a good team.

Falcons linebacker (56) Sean Weatherspoon comes up with the fumble by the Jaguars' Jarett Dillard on a kick return, setting up a touchdown run by Michael Turner for a 17-0 Falcons lead during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons linebacker (56) Sean Weatherspoon comes up with the fumble by the Jaguars' Jarett Dillard on a kick return, setting up a touchdown run by Michael Turner for a 17-0 Falcons lead during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons only have one win over a team that currently has a winning record. Their signature win was a 23-16 slugfest with the Detroit Lions (9-5) on Oct. 23. Their other “impressive” victories were over Seattle (7-7) and Tennessee (7-7).

Even without their signaturw win, the Falcons chances of repeating as NFC South champions are alive.

The Falcons will need to beat the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and finish 11-5 overall, 4-2 in the NFC South.

They would also need the Saints to lose at home to the Carolina Panthers in their regular-season finale. The Saints would finish 11-5, 3-3 in the division.

Since the Falcons and Saints would be tied in head-to-head (1-1) games, the tie would be broken on the second tie-breaker rule: best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.

Under this scenario, the Falcons would finish with division losses to Tampa Bay and New Orleans. The Saints would finish with division losses to Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Carolina.

“Again, we control what we can control,” Smith said. “It’s obvious that our guys are familiar with the scenarios that we are in. I think this, not just talking about our ball game; it’s going to be a very interesting two weeks for a lot of teams.

“The way that the schedule is put together with all of the division teams playing one another, it makes for a great finish to the regular season. I know that our guys are aware of it.”

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

The six postseason participants from each conference are seeded as follows:

1.The division champion with the best record.

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert (11) has been sacked 4th-most in the NFL this season. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert (11) has been sacked 4th-most in the NFL this season. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

2.The division champion with the second-best record.

3.The division champion with the third-best record.

4.The division champion with the fourth-best record.

5.The Wild Card club with the best record.

6.The Wild Card club with the second-best record.

The following procedures will be used to break standings ties for postseason playoffs and to determine regular-season schedules.

NOTE: Tie games count as one-half win and one-half loss for both clubs.

TO BREAK A TIE WITHIN A DIVISION

If, at the end of the regular season, two or more clubs in the same division finish with identical won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined.

Two Clubs

1.Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).

2.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.

3.Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.

4.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

5.Strength of victory.

6.Strength of schedule.

7.Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.

8.Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.

Roddy White wide receiver catches a Matt Ryan pass in front of Jaguars cornerback Ashton Youboty during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Roddy White wide receiver catches a Matt Ryan pass in front of Jaguars cornerback Ashton Youboty during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

9.Best net points in common games.

10.Best net points in all games.

11.Best net touchdowns in all games.

12.Coin toss

Three or More Clubs

(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated during any step, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of the two-club format).

1.Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs).

2.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.

3.Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.

4.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

5.Strength of victory.

6.Strength of schedule.

7.Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.

8.Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.

9.Best net points in common games.

10.Best net points in all games.

11.Best net touchdowns in all games.

12.Coin toss

TO BREAK A TIE FOR THE WILD-CARD TEAM

If it is necessary to break ties to determine the two Wild-Card clubs from each conference, the following steps will be taken.

1.If the tied clubs are from the same division, apply division tie breaker.

2.If the tied clubs are from different divisions, apply the following steps.

Two Clubs

1.Head-to-head, if applicable.

2.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

3.Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

4.Strength of victory.

5.Strength of schedule.

6.Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.

7.Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.

8.Best net points in conference games.

9.Best net points in all games.

10.Best net touchdowns in all games.

11.Coin toss.

Three or More Clubs

(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of applicable two-club format.)

1.Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants.

2.Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)

3.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

4.Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

5.Strength of victory.

6.Strength of schedule.

7.Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.

8.Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.

9.Best net points in conference games.

10.Best net points in all games.

11.Best net touchdowns in all games.

12.Coin toss

When the first Wild-Card team has been identified, the procedure is repeated to name the second Wild-Card, i.e., eliminate all but the highest-ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. In situations where three or more teams from the same division are involved in the procedure, the original seeding of the teams remains the same for subsequent applications of the tie breaker if the top-ranked team in that division qualifies for a Wild-Card berth.

OTHER TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURES

1.Only one club advances to the playoffs in any tie-breaking step. Remaining tied clubs revert to the first step of the applicable division or Wild Card tie-breakers. As an example, if two clubs remain tied in any tie-breaker step after all other clubs have been eliminated, the procedure reverts to Step 1 of the two-club format to determine the winner. When one club wins the tiebreaker, all other clubs revert to Step 1 of the applicable two-club or three-club format.

2.In comparing records against common opponents among tied teams, the best won-lost-tied percentage is the deciding factor, since teams may have played an unequal number of games.

3.To determine home-field priority among division-titlists, apply Wild Card tie-breakers.

4.To determine home-field priority for Wild Card qualifiers, apply division tie-breakers (if teams are from the same division) or Wild Card tiebreakers (if teams are from different divisions).

5.To determine the best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed, add a team’s position in the two categories, and the lowest score wins. For example, if Team A is first in points scored and second in points allowed, its combined ranking is “3.” If Team B is third in points scored and first in points allowed, its combined ranking is “4.” Team A then wins the tiebreaker. If two teams are tied for a position, both teams are awarded the ranking as if they held it solely. For example, if Team A and Team B are tied for first in points scored, each team is assigned a ranking of “1″ in that category, and if Team C is third, its ranking will still be “3.”

TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURE FOR SELECTION MEETING

1.Clubs not participating in the playoffs shall select in the first through 20th positions in reverse standings order.

2.The Super Bowl winner is last and Super Bowl loser is next-to-last.

3.The losers of the Conference Championship games shall select 29th and 30th based on won-lost-tied percentage.

4.The losers of the Divisional playoff games shall select 25th through 28th based on won-lost-tied percentage.

5.The losers of the Wild Card games shall select 21st through 24th based on won-lost-tied percentage.

If ties exist in any grouping except (2) above, such ties shall be broken by strength-of-schedule. If any ties cannot be broken by strength-of-schedule, the divisional or conference tie-breakers, if applicable, shall be applied. Any ties that still exist shall be broken by a coin flip.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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297 comments Add your comment

corner help

December 20th, 2011
7:51 am

SeenThisB4

December 20th, 2011
7:53 am

Saints 34 – falcan’ts 7.

corner help

December 20th, 2011
7:55 am

I don’t think home field is that important when you play elite teams. As John Gruden said, everything starts with our secondary. If those guys are healthy and come to play we can beat anybody. I noticed that when Owens comes in the game, he plays is now playing outside instead of the slot. Hopefully he doesn’t have to play much, but if he does that’s the way to play him.

falconsrus

December 20th, 2011
7:56 am

falconsrus

December 20th, 2011
7:57 am

falcons 34 saints 3

corner help

December 20th, 2011
7:58 am

SeenthisB4 – Brees is in for a tough game.

Damage Inc.

December 20th, 2011
7:58 am

is that what vegas has? maybe they should call you huh?

SirReal

December 20th, 2011
8:00 am

Who cares about a “signature” win. Didnt the Giants have a “signature” win against Dallas and just laid an egg last week? None of that matters. Just take the field and get a W….who needs the adjectives.lol

D Led, we all know the Birds have beat up on sub .500 teams and gotten beat up by over .500 teams. At this point in the season, thats the team we have and it doesnt look like that “signature” win would come until we made the playoffs and win one.

falconsrus

December 20th, 2011
8:01 am

next week panthers 24 saints 17

Walker, Texas Ranger

December 20th, 2011
8:10 am

Signature win coming up.

c'mon man

December 20th, 2011
8:11 am

SeenThis.. I know you have been on these blogs forever, but, you cannot believe in your heart of hearts that 34-7 is going to be the final score. You are a long time Saints fan no doubt and I am a long time falcons fan.. so.. try to remember the last time the Saints and Falcons played a game that was lop sided? You have to go all the way back to 2007 to even see a 34-14 win. The rest of the games have been 8 points or less. So really? This is your final prediction? Do you care to put money on it? I don’t believe you would put money on that score.

SeenThisB4

December 20th, 2011
8:17 am

Brees is going to break Marino’s passing record on MNF.

Queensbridge

December 20th, 2011
8:20 am

Dled, I guess you had some time to kill, huh? I have a signature win in my shorts. Dirty Birdz win Monday!

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
8:21 am

Seen thisB4…you are out of your mind

I said before that 49ers game started they might be the sleeper this year but seriously doubt that game would have been lopsided if Big Ben could have moved around instead of being handicap. Give him credit for being a gamer and staying in it until the end.

Aint fans, that 2nd place seed was short lived for you huh ?

D-led, you are so right about Atlanta needing to make a statement come Monday night against the Saints so we shall see if that happens.

Stepchild

December 20th, 2011
8:24 am

Let me just say that the Saints team is offensively better than they were in 2009. Their defense doesn’t turn the ball over as much but they are now a lot more unpredictable. They used to blitz every play….they are starting to mix it up more and as a result I think they are better defensively than they were earlier this year.

Saints: 35 Falcons: 17

trademark

December 20th, 2011
8:33 am

DOL filling up space again….

Signature wins…hmmmm…What about Philly? And before the critics start screaming about the record, let’s focus a little a try to remember they were still the “Dream Team” in week 2, and Atlanta hasn’t exactly had the best games against that team….Want to compare them to San Francisco? OK. They beat Philly too. By 1 whole point.

Moving on, how about Down to Carolina on the road by 16 at the half? Think Carolina’s easy to beat lately? Ask Houston about that. Signed.

OK, against Playoff teams, or on the bubble ones….wins against Tennessee, then Detroit and Seattle (who has been absolutely DEMOLISHING people lately) on the ROAD. Signed.

Let’s get real, drop this “signature win” crap. What San Francisco HAS done to make them a contender has nothing to do with this. They have played NINE games this year against teams that are .500 or better, and their record is a stellar 6-3. The Falcons have played 7, and are a mediocre 3-4 (so far….) There’s your story. Point is, this is hardly San Francisco’s first signature win. They’ve been doing it all damned year.

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
8:34 am

I can’t figure out how anyone can put a prediction on a Falcons-Saints Game as close as the two teams have played as of lately…the only difference I have seen as of late is that Atlanta has wallop two teams back to back and in the last one all you had to do was sit back and smoke a cigar and enjoy it…..lol .

If they play with that fire against the Aints Team on MNF , the Falcons are going to be too hot for them to handle.

Honestly, I think Breezy might break the record but don’t cook your chickens before the eggs have hatched !

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 20th, 2011
8:37 am

I see you all are having some fun with this. Space on the internet is unlimited.

j

December 20th, 2011
8:39 am

Seendrewbreesballsonmychin,

You are gonna be in for a real suprise when the Falcons whip the Aints in that sewer city of yours.

bigslow

December 20th, 2011
8:40 am

we had them last time.the coach blinked at the end. right to go for it but wrong play called. we will get them this time.

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
8:40 am

D-led, next time you are in Falcons Camp, ask Tony Gonzales how he felt when Roddy stole that touchdown away from him !

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
8:45 am

Talking about a good football game match-up, Falcons-49ers, Ryan against Smith. Wonder if they could run against the Falcon Defense ?

Think the Falcons could take em but if the Birds don’t do anything I am for the 49ers.

ATLien73

December 20th, 2011
8:48 am

Personally, I don’t care about signature wins! Just win – whomever it is! San Fran is no more of a legitimate NFC contender than we were last year (or are now). They aren’t “playoff battle tested!” Good win – but they caught Pittsburgh with an injured QB – period! Our signature win would be the Superbowl!

Whopper Dawg

December 20th, 2011
8:49 am

The Falcons would take a 3 point win right now and I would too. They are not going to beat down the Saints period much less in their house.

Good point on the Falcons beating only one team with a winning record. Makes the outlook for the playoffs pretty dim.

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
8:55 am

I wouldn’t count the Falcons out based on the first two thirds of the Season performance for they turned the corner in the last two games and it don’t take no rocket scientist to see it. Still think the Saints are in some serious trouble going into next Monday night. Ryan was putting that ball everywhere in that Jags game and that was no fluke .

Sean Frazier

December 20th, 2011
8:56 am

Brees is still afraid of Grimes. Hope he can get back on the field!

honest_abe

December 20th, 2011
8:57 am

baltimore has 2 “signature” wins and yet they’ve lost to seattle, tennessee,jacksonville and san diego. i wouldn’t consider any of those teams to be elite.

having a “signature” win is nice but not mandatory in a team’s search of a lombardi trophy. just get the w.

to blow out quality teams you need to bring the beef. did you see some of the talent the 49ers have up front? maulers & brawlers. the falcons need to get some more talent along both lines if they want to be feared around the league.

rollo lawson

December 20th, 2011
9:00 am

We will never beat New Orleans down like that. Division games don’t usually go down like that in the NFC South. Especially not Falcon/Saints games. I agree, San Fran looked darn good last night. And the crowd was electric. Its good to see S.F. back on top. I like their formula. Alex Smith is a pretty good game manager when that defense plays like that. Good look to whoever has to go in their play.

trademark

December 20th, 2011
9:02 am

….it IS a fun subject….good thing space is free, huh? :) Nah, with all the Christmas love back atcha DOL, I just got too harsh on the criticism, I just think the Falcons have had some pretty impressive efforts this year as well, and I think what you were trying to get across as one of your points here is that we’d all relax a little and feel a bit more confident if, for example, the Falcons take the Saints out by more than just a couple of points. That would serve as a point for the national pundits to focus on as a “Signature Win”. (Sorry, I still think San Fran’s done it more than once this year…;) ) Unfortunately, for the last two years, thie Falcons/Saints game came down to field goals, that’s the sign of two pretty evenly matched teams. NO’s has the Offensive advantage, Atlanta, the Defense. Plus, there’s that whole “I hate your $§!”! guts” factor. Makes any team dangerous, Saints or Falcons. I think we’re gonna have a good one here, despite the final score. But I feel a BIG-A%$ wave of Payback building from Flowery Branch ready to smash into the Saints at full-force. Let’s see if the levies hold….

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
9:09 am

The Falcons are already messing with Breezy’s head , you know he has his mind on the Monday night game coming and what will happen.

VooDerp

December 20th, 2011
9:11 am

I AM FOR ONE TO BEEN HASING MUCH DREAMINGMENTS OF FALCONS OFFENSE. FOR ME BEING TOO MUCH MORE SCARED. BREES FOR ONE MAN HAS BE MUCH GOODER THAN FOR RYAN, HOWINGEVER MUCH DIFFERNTS IS FALCONS DEFENSE. I HASING BEEN MUCHING NIGHTMAREINGMENTATIONS OF THIS AND SAID GAME. I FEEL NO LIKE GOOD ON PLAYING OF THE FALCONS.

ATLien73

December 20th, 2011
9:12 am

Fairweather fans…you guys disgust me.

Big Al

December 20th, 2011
9:13 am

Mighty Falcons Fans. Remember Green Bay last year. You gonna get just about the same treatment in The Big Easy next Monday night. Ain’t gonna be playing no Jacksonville Jags.

fansince74

December 20th, 2011
9:13 am

I don’t think the Falcons would match up well against the 49ers. They are really good on defense especially their defensive line.

Samuel L. Jackson

December 20th, 2011
9:14 am

9 of 11 and 10 of 12 come 12/26…

Keep dreaming if you think the Falcons are gonna win. 34-24 Saints win and Brees breaks Marino’s record :)

JONESBORO SLIM

December 20th, 2011
9:14 am

The Falcons O-Line is just not big enough to protect Ryan and give him the time he needs…come on people you know this is our biggest problem…and until our D-Line can put pressure on the QB we will remain a “So So” team……..

fansince74

December 20th, 2011
9:15 am

BTW: I think the Falcons match up better against the Saints and Packers than they do against the 49ers.

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
9:19 am

Here we go with the doubting fair-weathers and the troll patrol from the Big Easy again….its like a old record player stuck on an album in the middle of it..nah nah nah.when you folks going to realize the Atlanta Team has been built on for the past 4 years now and they are no fluke.

St Simons - we're on Island time

December 20th, 2011
9:23 am

Bosher.Owens.Decoud. The End

Samuel L. Jackson

December 20th, 2011
9:26 am

Michael M.,

When are YOU going to realize the Saints have owned Atlanta the last 4 yrs now and its no fluke?!?!?!?!

Once is an accident, twice is a trend, but 3 in a row and 9 of 11 is a HABIT!!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 20th, 2011
9:28 am

Michael M. — I thought Tony was trying to get to the ball that was intended for Roddy. I’ll ask him and/or Ryan for you.

True Falcon Fan

December 20th, 2011
9:29 am

D-led comOnMan – Monday game Steelers vs 49ers was not a signature win for the niners! Granted the niners do look very good on defense and the offense was just ok. But you when you are minus you star DE as the Steelers were and minus your QB as the Steelers were, somebody please tell me how the win last night was a signature win?

Go Falcons – Ain’t Next -7 – got cha!!!!!

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
9:31 am

Bad habits Can be broken and what you said is old news, relive the past. The Saints didn’t beat Atlanta a few weeks back……..they defeated their own selfs Jack !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Larry

December 20th, 2011
9:31 am

Mr. Ledbetter,

The Falcons had s few “signature” wins last regular season (Ravens, Saints, Packers) and what did this do for them in the playoffs?

Everyone is 0-0 come the playoffs…

rick

December 20th, 2011
9:32 am

Serious question — Does NO have a newspaper? Ok a newspaper that has an online blog on their sports page? It’s like everytime I read a Falcons article…..I see Aints fans chiming in with immature comments. It’s like they sit on AJC sports and refresh all day to throw their dirty 2 cents into everything. Not pissed……just curious. I don’t see Tampa Bay fans or Carolina fans on our site blogging garbage….even during their winning years — tb was just last year.

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
9:32 am

Thank-you D-led !

rick

December 20th, 2011
9:35 am

Mr. Ledbetter….thanks for all the Falcons articles, but you will have to take down this article after Monday Night. Or maybe you can just edit the page with 2. Falcons win 30-24.

Michael M.

December 20th, 2011
9:35 am

@ rick………..I can’t find anything and I have searched so I could go rag them out…lol

JONESBORO SLIM

December 20th, 2011
9:35 am

@Rick….Noooooooo

Samuel L. Jackson

December 20th, 2011
9:35 am

Michael M.,

Keep believing that if you want to… but if facts serve me correct the Saints were ahead 23-13 with about 6-7 minutes left in the 4th and Roman Harper DROPPED an INT right in his hands in the endzone on that final drive that would have sealed it in regulation. Selective memory is fun isn’t it?

The Saints had control of the game until they went into prevent defense mode the last 2 drives and bungled the coverages by lining up Harry Douglas with a LB.