Atlanta Falcons: NFC South title is within team’s reach





FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons are closing in on the NFC South title. Just don’t tell that to coach Mike Smith.

“We’ve got to concern ourselves with what we can do and what we can control,” Smith said Monday after taking the team through an evening walk-through in the Falcons’ indoor facility. “We have to go out and do what we do as a football team and try to take care of the things we can control and not worry about the things that are going on around the league.”

The Falcons (10-1) hold a four-game lead over the Bucs (6-5) with five to play. New Orleans (5-6) and Carolina (2-8 before a Monday night game in Philadelphia) are in the basement.

The Falcons can wrap up the NFC South title with a win over the Saints on Thursday and an ensuing Denver victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Under that scenario, the Falcons would be 11-1 with a five-game lead over the 6-6 Bucs with four games to play.

Don’t expect the Falcons to begin sitting their starters either. They want to earn the NFC’s No. 1 or No. 2 seed in order to earn first-round bye.

The Falcons, who have been knocked out of the playoffs in their first game of their last three postseasons, have noticed the last few Super Bowl winning teams have begun heating up in December and January.

“Ten-and-one is great, but I’ll tell you what I’ve said since the beginning of the season: We’re just jockeying for position,” tight end Tony Gonzalez said. “We just want to put ourselves in the best position, playing the best football.”

The Falcons caught the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers in the playoffs the past two seasons. Both teams drubbed Atlanta and then went on to win the Super Bowl.

In 2008, the Arizona Cardinals also made a late-season move, knocked out the Falcons in the wild-card round and rode the momentum to the Super Bowl.

“Right around this time is when you want to start gelling as a team and take it on into the playoffs, because that’s the most important thing” Gonzalez said. “It doesn’t matter what your record is. You just want to be playing some good football come playoff time and right now, we’ve got to hopefully put something together and try to get that home-field advantage.”

The Falcons have won seven games by seven points or less this season. They are not dominating teams and have repeatedly stated that they can play better.

With the one-point win over the Buccaneers Sunday, the Falcons improved to 7-1 in games decided by one score this season. The seven wins by seven or fewer points is tied with the 2006 Indianapolis Colts for the most such wins during a 10-1 or 11-0 start, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Falcons don’t seem to mind the cliff-hanger nature of most of their games.

“When you win close games like that, it’s only a positive,” Gonzalez said. “Knowing that you can come up with plays when you have to and the defense stepped up when they had to, offense stepped up when they had to. Our special teams weren’t working like we wanted to as far as the kicking game goes, (but) we just kind of have each others’ backs and that’s all it does: It keeps your confidence going forward.”

In all, the Falcons are comfortable with their position.

“We feel really good where we are at,” wide receiver Roddy White said. “We’ve got a game coming up against the Saints on Thursday night and that’s going to be a big one for us in the division.”

LATEST NEWS
Falcons hold on to move to 10-1, can clinch NFC South title with win over Saints, Tampa Bay loss to Denver

With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster

Falcons quote board after 24-23 win over Tampa Bay

Turner, Rodgers challenge top rushing defense in the league

OTHER RECENT STORIES

Struggling Falcons survive turnovers, Cardinals in 23-19 victory

Falcons coach Mike Smith admits to challenge flag blunder

Abraham, Babineaux make heads up play to score much-needed touchdown

Falcons quoteboard after 23-19 win over the Cardinals

Matt Ryan discusses his five interceptions

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

57 comments Add your comment

Esquire

November 27th, 2012
7:27 am

WE ARE THE MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS!!!

SawThat1nce

November 27th, 2012
7:40 am

I heard Drew Brees say that the Taints owned this Division.

SawThat1nce

November 27th, 2012
7:49 am

“The Falcons have won 7 games by 7 or fewer points, this season. They are not dominating teams”………..the end of the 1st half of Sundays game in Tampa, is good example of one of the reason that they don’t look like they are dominating their opponents.

dean

November 27th, 2012
8:00 am

So what SawThat,

The end of the 2nd half is a good example of why they are 10-1.

Getaway

November 27th, 2012
8:09 am

Saw – I heard Drew Brees say that the Taints owned this Division.

Yeah, I heard that too. How many seasons in a row have they won the division now? One? Yep that’s ownage there.

Can’t make too much of this game coming on a short week and all, but I really hope ATL approaches this game like a playoff game. Except, you know, try to win it.

SirReal

November 27th, 2012
8:36 am

This is the time. Right now. We can strike twice with one blow. 1) Beat the Aints at home and drop them to 5-7, essentially burying their little glimmer of playoff hope. 2) We beat them and cheer on Peyton Manning on Sunday as we become the biggest dogs in this yard once more. I wanna see some resolve on a short week! The niners bruised them up pretty well. They’re gonna try that same running stuff as a couple weeks ago. FALCONS, PLEASE SCORE TOUCHDOWNS!!!! WE DO NOT NEED FIELD GOALS AGAINST THIS TEAM!!!! TOOO MUCH IS AT STAKE!lol

Ray Edwards

November 27th, 2012
8:45 am

This team is playing at a high level. What they need is a solid DE and a leader in the locker room.

D man

November 27th, 2012
9:03 am

We’re number 1, we’re number 1…

Bama Falcon Fan

November 27th, 2012
9:04 am

I have grown weary of these type stories from most of the “talking heads” of the NFL. The Falcons are 10-1 and only one other team has won that many. This is not college football and teams aren’t rewarded for “style points.”

Young Turk

November 27th, 2012
9:08 am

4BsihTneeS

November 27th, 2012
9:18 am

Brees didn’t say the SAINT S own the division, he said they own the fal can’ts. Four straight dominating victories over the fal can’ts; 11 of the last 13; 5 of the last 6 in the so called Georgia dome, (should be Georgia tent). All of that says the SAINT S own your fraud team.

The fal can’ts won’t wrap anything up this week, they’re going to have to wait, cause the team that owns them, the current defending Division Champs, are going to stick it to their little brothers from atlanta, once again. I know it, you know it, and more importantly, the fal can’ts know it.

I hope you guys have scheduled Stanley Steemer to come out to clean that field logo!

G EAUX SAINT S !!!

True Falcon Fan

November 27th, 2012
9:40 am

Falcons win this one!

Falcons 38 — Ain’ts 26 —- Good bye Ain’ts

BillA

November 27th, 2012
9:46 am

Can’t wait until Dec. 16th…we will see just how good the Falcons are against my NY Giants.

Whadda Ya Know?

November 27th, 2012
9:52 am

Where is my post?

True Falcon Fan

November 27th, 2012
9:54 am

@9:46 “ME TOO” — although the Falcons will probably have the division & 1st week bye in place by the time G-men come to town. But hopefully we’ll see them in the playoffs, “I WANT THE FALCONS TO PLAY AND BEAT THE BEST”!

Go Falcons —- Ain’ts next

Whadda Ya Know?

November 27th, 2012
9:54 am

4BsihTneeS, the FALCONS are gonna spanky DAT azz come Thursday. We will drive one more nail in the coffin to help end your season. Then we’re going to play in the Superbowl in that swamp dome of yours. Mark that down and I don’t wanna see you run into hiding when it happens.

Whadda Ya Know?

November 27th, 2012
10:01 am

BillA, we’re not thinking about the Giants right now. We got work to do against the Breeses this Thursday and then the Kittens. Wait your turn, we’ll have something for Eli.

pikedawg

November 27th, 2012
10:11 am

Falcons win this game by over two TD’s…book it. The Saint’s took a brutal beating from the Niners…they won’t have anything for the Birds Thursday night.

Falcon James

November 27th, 2012
10:11 am

The Falcon are going to put the Saint one game closer to sitting at home during the playoff. Then we can make joke about them like “What do you call a Saint player during the Wild Card round of the playoff?”, A FAN…. Then the next week we can tell the same joke by just changing a couple of words.

BillA

November 27th, 2012
10:16 am

@ Whadda Ya Know…We will be waiting but you will need to bring more than last year…lol.

True Falcon Fan

November 27th, 2012
10:23 am

Yo — BillA —- last years is all you have baby and it’s all yours….. The G-men are very good team, yes they put it to the Falcons “Lats Year” like what “Whadda Ya Know?” the Falcons are not ahead of themselves “wait you turn” baby, it’s coming…….. As the ole saying goes “You get what you pray for”!

Go Falcons — Ain’ts next

Wendell

November 27th, 2012
10:30 am

Serious Question: Is Drew Brees Gay?

Not that there is anything wrong with it.

True Falcon Fan

November 27th, 2012
10:41 am

@10:30 That would very surprising news especially to his wife and family, don’t you think Wenniedelless???

Go Falcons — Drew Brees & Ain’ts next

Whadda Ya Know?

November 27th, 2012
11:10 am

Wendell, did you have an encounter with Brees? What do you know? What are you hiding? That is an odd question for a married man with children who seems to be a very straight arrow.

Janzen

November 27th, 2012
11:26 am

Game will come down to another goal-line conversion attempt my Matt Ryan and the Falcon’s offense. Only this time, they will convert and win the game with less than a minute to go. You heard i here first.

Dr. Warren

November 27th, 2012
11:41 am

Why does everyone but Mike Smith and his coaches see that Turner needs to be replaced by Snelling and Rodgers. At least reduce his carries and increase theirs. The numbers have told the story for weeks and weeks. Why can’t Smith be more flexible and make the needed adjustments DURING the season? If he won’t do that, they should just throw the ball 100% of the time!

Keeping it real

November 27th, 2012
11:55 am

Keys to the game-Stop the big plays,Brees to Jimmy Graham,thats why the record vs the falcons has been so one sided the last few years.

Redcoat

November 27th, 2012
11:57 am

Seen (an al qaeda supporter, just ask him!)…….no guilty feelings yet supporting terrorist that have killed Americans and vow to destroy this country? Be a man and an American(starting to wonder now) and admit you said a very foolish thing….

falcon freak

November 27th, 2012
12:12 pm

who dat? who dat? who dat going to be watching them falcons in the playoffs?

4BsihTneeS

November 27th, 2012
12:13 pm

you guys i’m really insecure with my self as a man thats why i say all these crazy things about your Mighty Team known as the FALCANS

Fetus Breath

November 27th, 2012
12:32 pm

Heat Check

November 27th, 2012
12:39 pm

What?

November 27th, 2012
12:50 pm

Heat Check 11-2? Heat Check you need a break check

VR Jacket

November 27th, 2012
12:59 pm

With the one-point win over the Buccaneers Sunday, the Falcons improved to 7-1 in games decided by one score this season. The seven wins by seven or fewer points is tied with the 2006 Indianapolis Colts for the most such wins during a 10-1 or 11-0 start, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Who won the Super Bowl 2006/07?

hiramsaint

November 27th, 2012
1:04 pm

4BsihTneeS, can we stop pretending our super bowl win wasn’t given to us because a hurricane messed up our city. everyone knows, i can’t keep convincing myself otherwise. it’ to hard, like keeping a job

Mikey

November 27th, 2012
1:17 pm

Our Falcons are 11-1 and gettng better every week. They have three more games to get into top shape for playing the big boys. They are studying hard and making adustments. They have the depth to field a strong team in the playoffs. I like our chances as long as they keep their nose to the grindstone and get better each week. I have no doubt that they are doing that as we speak! GO FALCONS! YOU ARE RISING UP!

Falcon Fan

November 27th, 2012
2:03 pm

@4BsihTneeS – Yeah, and Obama is doing a great job!! Call me on your Obama phone or go get some more alcohol with that Obama debit card, you loser!!!

Heat Check

November 27th, 2012
2:05 pm

Mikey,

The Falcons are 10-1 lol. I just don’t see what you do. This team is no different from last year or 2010. This Falcons team is not a Super Bowl contender no matter how many regular season games they win. Get ready for the 49ers or Giants to kill your dreams again in January

Whadda Ya Know?

November 27th, 2012
2:31 pm

Heat Check, obviously you don’t watch the Falcons. Otherwise, you’d know they are NOT the same team as last year. I’m not going to explain to you how, apparently you already know. Also, you came on this blog just to say wha

You're a Joke

November 27th, 2012
2:33 pm

Aint’s daddy is going to Dallas soon !!!!!!!!!!! seen, you’re just plain dumb !! Falcon own the overall record, which means we own you……..turd !!!!! LOL

Ray Edwards

November 27th, 2012
3:25 pm

Brees said it was their division before the game against us. And now he looks even more stupid than usual. Oh, and if the Falcons can’t get Jason Babin off waivers, I’m still available.

Jimmy Crack

November 27th, 2012
3:33 pm

Dominating games is for the BCS. Bonus points for shellackings.

Not in the NFL, where W’s and team health are the most important keys to winning the ring.

BTW, Brees is going to eat his words, and he’s going to use a BIG SPOON to do it!

Say It Aint So

November 27th, 2012
3:41 pm

Just saw the news the Eagles release DE Jason Babin. Should the Falcons inquire for the playoff push.

ijonathan

November 27th, 2012
3:49 pm

Yes on Babin. If nothing else, depth. He had 5.5 sacks this year and was a “disappointment.” Did Ray Edwards have 5.5 sacks his entire time here? :-)

Man...

November 27th, 2012
3:51 pm

Falcons better go and get Babin!

Would be a great add to the line.

K Dub

November 27th, 2012
4:01 pm

LOL @ Wendell..

Heat Check

November 27th, 2012
4:02 pm

11-2, 4 in a row…. you don’t have to like it, heck you can even complain about it, but that isn’t going to change the outcome. When the Falcons lose I’ll look forward to hearing all the excuses again on Thursday night

Heat Check

November 27th, 2012
4:09 pm

Whadda Ya Know?,

The means are different, but the ends are still the same. This is a team that wins largely due to inferior opponents mistakes. I was impressed that the Falcons did well against Martin this wknd but the larger sample size says they don’t do well stopping the run, nor do they run the ball well. That is a recipe for another playoff failure whether you like it or not.

Did you watch the 49ers and Giants Sunday? Those 2 teams dispatched far superior competition to anything the Falcons have beaten this year and they did it convincingly. The Falcons are not better than either team and the cold, hard slap in the face will come in the playoffs.

Reggie

November 27th, 2012
4:16 pm

Eagles released Jason Babin…the Falcons should sign this guy today, dude has 23.5 sacks in the past two years,thats what we are missing,someone to pair with John Abraham. Do it Blank!!

drew

November 27th, 2012
4:19 pm

Off topic…regarding the “no video review if you throw a challenge flag on a scoring play or turnover”:

The NFL needs to fix this screwed-up rule TODAY. It was pointed out to me yesterday that the rule can be used to PREVENT a play from being reviewed. For instance, if a ref rules a touchdown on a play where a review might overturn that TD, the scoring team can simply throw the challenge flag, thereby PREVENTING the refs from reviewing the play. In other words, the scoring team can prevent the refs from “getting it right”.

So until they get it fixed, all a team has to do to prevent “further review” of a scoring play or a change of possession is toss the challenge flag. Yeah, you’ll be penalized, and you’ll lose a timeout, but the play cannot be reversed. Is that wrong? Probably. Is it legal? Yes…until they fix it.