Atlanta Falcons clinch NFC South title, get closer to top playoff seed

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: The Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud (28) jumps on the back of safety William Moore after Moore's first of two interceptions in their 23-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: The Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud (28) jumps on the back of safety William Moore after Moore's first of two interceptions in their 23-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

The calendar turned to December since the Falcons last played.

It’s the time of year when big football plans start to materialize.

“It’ll be fun for the teams involved,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “It ought to be fun for the fans and it’s going to be fun for the coaches. Football in December, it can’t get any better.”

The Falcons (11-1) wrapped up the NFC South title on Sunday. Denver’s 31-23 win over Tampa Bay (6-6) gave the Falcons a five-game lead with four games to play. New Orleans (5-7) is on playoff-life support and Carolina (3-9) is getting ready for next season.

The Falcons also picked up games on San Francisco (8-3-1) and Chicago (8-4) in the race for one of the top two playoffs seeds in the NFC, which come with a bye and a spot in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Falcons earned at least one home playoff game.

The playoff picture started to take shape after Sunday’s action.

In the AFC, Denver clinched the AFC West title, New England clinched the AFC East title and Houston clinched a playoff berth.

The Falcons will close out the regular season with games at Carolina at 1 p.m. Sunday, New York Giants on Dec. 16 at the Georgia Dome, at Detroit on Dec. 22 and Tampa Bay on Dec. 30 at the Georgia Dome.

If the Falcons sweep, they would have a franchise-best 15-1 mark. The 1998 Falcons, the franchise’s lone Super Bowl team, finished 14-2 under coach Dan Reeves.

The Falcons are the sixth team to start 11-1 since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule with the 1978 season. Only one of them – the 1991 Washington Redskins – went on to win the Super Bowl.

The 1984 Miami Dolphins, who started 11-1, lost in Super Bowl XIX. The 1990 San Francisco 49ers lost in the NFC championship game. The 2003 Kansas City Chiefs and the 2008 Tennessee Titans lost in the division round.

The Falcons, after replacing their coordinators this offseason, have stormed to their second division title in the last three seasons. The Falcons went 13-3 in 2010, won the division title and entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Dirk Koetter took over from Mike Mularkey, who was named the head coach in Jacksonville. Mike Nolan, who coached with Smith back in their Baltimore days, replaced Brian VanGorder as the defensive coordinator.

They have won with basically the same personnel executing new schemes.

“It makes me realize that we have a very good football team and we have had a good football team since we’ve gotten here,” Smith said. “It’s a maturation process that you go through as you put a team together and you build.”

Smith also points to the team’s veterans for setting the tone as some of the younger players, like safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, have blossomed.

Moore had a monster game against the Saints with 11 tackles and two interceptions. He played the marauding style of football that the Falcons envisioned when they selected him with a second-round pick in 2009.

DeCoud has a career high five interceptions.

Moore and DeCoud have combined for 10 turnovers – nine interceptions and one forced fumble – which have resulted in 30 points. They are responsible for nearly half of Atlanta’s 24 takeways this season.

“We’ve got some really good leaders,” Smith said. “You reflect back on the 12 games that we’ve played and one of the things you realize is that we’re a resilient team. We don’t blink. We focus on the next play. When you do that, you’re going to have a chance to be successful.”

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146 comments Add your comment

Herpes Butter

December 2nd, 2012
7:22 pm

Enter your comments here

DIRTY BIRD

December 2nd, 2012
7:28 pm

GET DEM DIRTY BIRDS WOOO HOOOOO

Braveheart7

December 2nd, 2012
7:30 pm

“Football in December, it can’t get any better.”

Jan. & Feb. not too bad either

LOL at The Aints

December 2nd, 2012
7:31 pm

Enter your comments here

TrishaDishawareagle

December 2nd, 2012
7:31 pm

WAY TO GO 2012 Atlanta Falcons!! 2012 NFC SOUTH CHAMPIONS

TrishaDishawareagle

December 2nd, 2012
7:32 pm

We should be honorary AFC West Champs too!

Kim Bassinger

December 2nd, 2012
7:32 pm

Matty Ice needs to redeem himself for picking Alabama and saying “Role Tide” on ESPN Game Day in front of a national audience. Winning a Super Bowl would do it.

Michael watson

December 2nd, 2012
7:38 pm

Enter your comments here

SCFalcon

December 2nd, 2012
7:38 pm

Hey Drew, who’s division is it? Who dat gonna be watching the playoffs from the couch?

Go Falcons!

Season Ticket Holder

December 2nd, 2012
7:42 pm

Congrats Falcons! Time to finish strong! Win the next seven games and bring home the S/B ring.

SCFalcon

December 2nd, 2012
7:42 pm

Ha! The trolls didn’t bother post first on this story!

Licking their wounds no doubt.

4DaBirds

December 2nd, 2012
7:46 pm

Way to go Falcons! Congrats! Now go get those playoff wins!

bigdawg88

December 2nd, 2012
7:47 pm

Good, now we can rest up Samuel for the playoffs, and get McClain more playing time.

1eyedJack

December 2nd, 2012
7:47 pm

Congratulations to the Atlanta Falcons organization. This is sooooo much more fun than the Rankin Smith era.

felix the cat

December 2nd, 2012
7:47 pm

woo hoo!! Haw Haw!!! Go Falcons!

sam

December 2nd, 2012
7:47 pm

What, the Falcons win the NFC South? How can that be? I thought Drew Brees said the Saints own this division. BAAAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAAA :-)

USMC DAWG

December 2nd, 2012
7:47 pm

“Atlanta Falcons clinch NFC South title, get closer to top playoff seed”

That’s great…. But we need to win a PLAYOFF game… And I am confident that we will.

Go Falcons!

johnmaddenashell

December 2nd, 2012
7:48 pm

TrishaDishawareagle has a good point.We actually won two divisions!!

XLIV44

December 2nd, 2012
7:49 pm

Keep Dreaming Falcon Fans …..lol.

Wut wut

December 2nd, 2012
7:50 pm

UGA ECONOMICS MAJOR

December 2nd, 2012
7:51 pm

MAN I,M SO PROUD OF MY FALCONS..HOW LONG HAVE I WAITED FOR THEM TO GET TO THIS STAGE…JUST RISE UP AND PLAY LIKE THE DEVIL IN THE PLAYOFFS YOU HAVE BEEN DISRESPECTED LONG ENOUGH GET ANGRY FALCONS….EVERYTHING IN ATLANTA HAS CHANGED FOR THE WORST BUT THE ATLANTA FALCONS I REMAIN A DIE HARD FALCON..I LOOK FORWARD TO THE PLAYOFFS..GEORGIA DOME GET LOUD VERRRY LOUD

Joesmooth

December 2nd, 2012
7:52 pm

Saints are aints

To

December 2nd, 2012
7:53 pm

lagunadawg

December 2nd, 2012
7:54 pm

Great job Falcons! We have some warts but all our possible opponents do as well.I think in two weeks The Falcons will know where they really stand. I think the Giants and Packers could win in Atlanta but don’t believe other teams in NFC are capable. I believe a win against the Giants will have The Falcons believing they can’t be beat in Atlanta. Let’s finish the fourth quarter on a roll.

TrishaDishawareagle

December 2nd, 2012
7:55 pm

See you all at the dome in 2 weeks when we take on Eli and can (with a win in charlotte) clinch both a bye and DOME field for the playoffs.. We need to rock that b*tch!!

Big Daddy

December 2nd, 2012
8:00 pm

The Falcons have a chance to run the table here on out. What is a shame is I have not heard many sportscasters giving us a chance. Everybody seems to be looking for us to implode. Don’t see that happening. We will go deep into the playoffs and make it to the Super Bowl. GO FALCONS!!!!

Tommy

December 2nd, 2012
8:02 pm

Memo to drew ‘we own this division’ Brees:

Atlanta Falcons 2012 NFC South champs.

. . . .and the rams have a better record than the saints. . . .

Edd

December 2nd, 2012
8:04 pm

At least we got rid of the Saint fans, all two of them. Cry me a river. Done, toast, gone, but we will need ya’ ll next year to get two more easy wins and oh yeah, ya,ll can come to the Super Bowl and watch and not have far to swim, this time it will cost money to get in it won’t be like Katriny . Maybe Obamy will let ya,ll in for free and make Bush pay for it, LMFAO !,,,

LOL at the Aints

December 2nd, 2012
8:05 pm

Well Well Well,, As as I see it the Falcons are the Class of the NFC. Seen! Sorry bud your team Su>ks,, LOL,, Lets go get some playoff wins! Go Birds!

XLIV44

December 2nd, 2012
8:05 pm

I’m getting a kick out of these comments YA”LL had the top seed 2 years ago and CHOKED. Home Field and CHOKED. Ya’ll have a better chance of seeing Santa Claus then Getting to and Winning a Superbowl.
Superbowl Wins

Saints 1-0
Falcons 0-1.

Joe Dirte

December 2nd, 2012
8:09 pm

Great Falconi

December 2nd, 2012
8:10 pm

Congrats to our guys. They deserved this division title. I hope we can do much more this season.

Iluvnutella

December 2nd, 2012
8:14 pm

Go 3/4 and lets go to The Bowl…..woot woot!

Tyrone Watts

December 2nd, 2012
8:14 pm

Saint will make the playoff.

M

December 2nd, 2012
8:15 pm

We clinched the Division, Beat the Srupid saints, and nothing would be Sweeter than to Win the Superbowl “in” New Orleans. Ahh Yeaa Baby!!!!! Rise Up!!!!!!

Pigskin

December 2nd, 2012
8:19 pm

Congrats men!

Still a lot of work to do.

Michael M.

December 2nd, 2012
8:21 pm

Just think though…………..all the players on Atlanta had to do was stay home and watch the football games today and slide into the NFC SOUTH TITLE watching the others slug it out on television.

How Sweet it is ! This team may not lose another game this year. The way this team has kept on winning this year each and every week has been amazing. I am looking forward to the Giants and some Falcons revenge and payback for last year!

Rise up Falcons, Dirtybirds, Angrybirds or whatever you want to call them ! The haters can keep on hating but the Fabulous Falcons just keep on winning !

LOL at the Aints

December 2nd, 2012
8:24 pm

Sorry for the double As,, LOL,, Go Birds,

Bobby

December 2nd, 2012
8:24 pm

Quite alright. Falcan’ts will go nowhere in the playoffs.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX!

Michael M.

December 2nd, 2012
8:29 pm

@ Lol…………I wonder where that idiot……….STB4 is and how he likes the Season this year ?

What a moron idiot he was, telling us we be own our knees crying and drinking whisky.

Who is doing the drinking now you idiot …STB4…………………………..

Michael M.

December 2nd, 2012
8:30 pm

ha ha ha……………….d-led won’t let me put what I want to put on here…………..ha ha ha

Augusta

December 2nd, 2012
8:32 pm

On NFL.com, not one word–not one mention about Falcons clinching NFC South…not one word! It’s all about Peyton and Tom, etc…

SAS

December 2nd, 2012
8:38 pm

Congrats to Falcons nation.
Any news on Babin, when does he clear wavers and are we interested in his services?

Billy

December 2nd, 2012
8:44 pm

Every one loves a winner…

retired

December 2nd, 2012
8:49 pm

SAS
December 2nd, 2012
8:38 pm

Congrats to Falcons nation.
Any news on Babin, when does he clear wavers and are we interested in his services?

PICKED OFF WAIVERS BY JAGS ON FRIDAY I believe

Drew 'we own(ed) this division' Brees

December 2nd, 2012
9:01 pm

See ya next year!

LOL at the Aints

December 2nd, 2012
9:11 pm

Right on Michael Right on, LOL! GO BIRDS!!

Voice of Reason

December 2nd, 2012
9:15 pm

Where is CHOKE the JOKE??? Probably watching his team play the Cowboys right now. I predict his team will not clinch the NFC North, but our Falcons have clinched the South!!!

Iowa Falcon

December 2nd, 2012
9:26 pm

Way to go FALCONS! Looking forward to home field advantage through the Playoffs.

Get Back Jojo

December 2nd, 2012
9:30 pm

Great job Falcons…Lets ride this wave all the way!!

GO FALCONS!!!