Atlanta Falcons: Happy with title, but plan to keep pedal to metal

Back in 2010, Atllanta fans hold up a sign proclaiming the team's NFC South champions' status prior to the Falcons clinching home field advantage in the post-season against the Carolina Panthers during the final week of the NFL's regular season. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Back in 2010, Atllanta fans hold up a sign proclaiming the team's NFC South champions' status prior to the Falcons clinching home field advantage in the post-season against the Carolina Panthers during the final week of the NFL's regular season. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Falcons continued to take their corporate, businesslike approach after clinching the NFC South title.

Falcons coach Mike Smith spoke of winning the division as the first step in the process and noted that the team has much bigger goals.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, a rookie when the Falcons last won the NFC South in 2010, also had no feelings of euphoria as the 11-1 team is set to return to practice on Tuesday after a four-day weekend.

“The last time we won the division I was too amped,” Weatherspoon wrote in a tweet. “This time, it’s just like… Ok, now let’s accomplish the next goal!”

The next goal for the Falcons is to secure the top seed in the NFC in order to earn a bye and at least one home playoff game.

The Falcons sent out an offer to buy playoff tickets via email to all season-ticket holder and club seat holders on Friday. An offer will be mailed to them Tuesday and has a Dec. 14 deadline.

The Falcons expect a limited amount of tickets to go sale to the general public on a date to be determined. There is an eight ticket limit.

The Falcons play at Carolina (3-9) on Sunday and can clinch home-field advantage through the playoffs with a victory, a loss by San Francisco, a loss or tie by Green Bay, New York Giants and Chicago, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

There are five other scenarios that could land the Falcons the top seed.

If the playoffs started this week, the Falcons would be the No. 1 seed and would see the winner of the (3) Green Bay vs. (6) Seattle or the (4) New York Giants vs. (5) Chicago wild-card games.

The Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs last season by the Giants and by the Packers in 2010. Also, they opened the 2011 season in Chicago and were routed 30-12 by the Bears.

The Falcons defeated Seattle on the road in 2011 and 2010.

Dallas, Tampa Bay and Minnesota are on the fringe of the playoff race at 6-6. Also, Washington was 5-6 before facing the Giants on “Monday Night Football” and the surprising St. Louis Rams are 5-6-1.

After defeating the New Orleans Saints 23-13 on Thursday, Falcons coach Mike Smith gave the team four days off.

They’ll return to practice and hold a Falcons against Falcons scrimmage practice before moving on to the preparing for Carolina on Wednesday.

They will have one scripted period on Tuesday to get re-familiarized with Carolina’s defense, which caused major havoc and racked up seven sacks in the previous meeting on Sept. 30.

Don’t expect Smith to pull his foot off the gas pedal if the Falcons do clinch the No. 1 seed. On his weekly radio show on 790TheZone with Dave Archer and Wes Durham, Smith said he’s playing to win.

“Ultimately, the number one thing for us is that we want to win as many football games as we can in the fourth quarter (of the season),” Smith said. “Then there will be sub-factors that we’ll concern ourselves with. Most importantly, we want to make sure that we go out and we play every game to win. We need to win. We need to win them all. We need to go 4-0 in the fourth quarter.”

Don’t even mention the resting of un-injured starters at this point.

“The only thing that is different through this last quarter of the season, we are out of the contact business,” Smith said. “We won’t practice in pads.”

The Falcons have had 10 padded practices and are allowed 14 under the new collective bargaining agreement.

“We need to keep our guys as fresh as we possibly can through this fourth quarter,” Smith said.

The Falcons will continue to cautiously manage injuries.

Earlier this season, the Falcons managed ankle injuries to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and wide receiver Julio Jones.

Weatherspoon missed three games and one game that he was considered questionable – 50-50 by league rules — to play in. After suffering his injury against New Orleans on Nov. 11, Jones did not practice the entire week before playing against Arizona.

Cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) and defensive tackle Peria Jerry (quadriceps) have the only known injuries. The team did not give an injury report after the Saints game.

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116 comments Add your comment

Falcon Fan

December 3rd, 2012
7:14 pm

I’m so proud of my birds this year. I don’t think we’re a finished product yet, but we are getting better and better each week. Just like the Falcons said when this was started, they wanted to be a team that can sustain greatness year in and out. All they need to do is get a little confidence in the playoffs.

meme

December 3rd, 2012
7:17 pm

peddle to the metal & run over every thing in the way!

meme

December 3rd, 2012
7:20 pm

dang i need to type with two fingers to be first

falcon82

December 3rd, 2012
7:54 pm

play hard falcons. keep improving. we still have not played the perfect game but boy i can not wait till we do . let’s do it this time in the playoffs. i have beleived in the falcons since 1982. let’s do this

hbcuclassics

December 3rd, 2012
8:22 pm

Black College Power Poll
Week 14

1. Bethune
2. Winston Salem
3. Tennessee State
4. UAPB
5. Jackson State
6. Tuskegee
7. NC A&T
8. Howard
9. Alabama A&M
10. Alabama State

http://www.hbcuclassics.com

Intellectual Ninja

December 3rd, 2012
8:24 pm

It’s funny…

… because of playing to win, Mike Smith always plays not to lose.

Wow!

December 3rd, 2012
8:45 pm

I would thought the headline read:

……..petal to to mettle…….

From the same person who brought us “The morale to the story……:

FootballTopFan(c)

December 3rd, 2012
8:47 pm

CONGRATULATIONS to the Atlanta Falcons and Head Coach Mike Smith on winning the National Football Conference (NFC) South division.

The Atlanta Falcons were our preseason pick to win the Super Bowl !!!

Charleston Jacket

December 3rd, 2012
8:50 pm

Bring back the old uni’s! Love em – guess I am more of a traditionalist. ie Packers, Bears, Jets, etc.

Ken

December 3rd, 2012
9:06 pm

It has been and will continue to be a GOOD TIME watching the FALCONS RISE UP!!!

old falc

December 3rd, 2012
9:17 pm

Falcons still not geting any respect -please vote on pro bowl

SWAT Native

December 3rd, 2012
9:23 pm

Just paid for my playoff tickets.

Whadda Ya Know?

December 3rd, 2012
9:28 pm

Pedal to the Metal? I’ll believe it when we stop sitting on leads and attack every opponent until the clock strikes zero–or we have at least a three TD lead to begin milking the clock.

1990_Champs_GT

December 3rd, 2012
10:18 pm

I disagree. Resting some guys after securing home field is smart, just not for entire games. Running guys into the ground isn’t the way.

Smith has to understand that if he doesn’t get it right this time, Bill Cowher’s got the job.

DirtyBirdinCali

December 3rd, 2012
10:26 pm

ATL vs. H-Town in the Crescent City for the Championship! Birdz win 38-27.

SAS

December 3rd, 2012
10:34 pm

any news on Babin?

Lombardi

December 3rd, 2012
10:36 pm

I like dreaming……………’cuz dreaming can you mine…………I like dreaming……….

just win.

December 3rd, 2012
10:46 pm

“The next goal for the Falcons is to secure the top seed in the NFC in order to earn a bye and at least one home playoff game.”

DOL, being the astute Falcons observer that you are, I’m certain that you realize that the Falcons have already secured at least one home playoff game by virtue of their South Division championship…

and can we cool the Babin talk already, or at least have someone give a credible answer to why, if this guy is such a difference maker, he’s been on 7 teams in 7 years? something there seems off…

RISE UP!

SAS

December 3rd, 2012
10:49 pm

are we at least interesting in him? its good to have depth on that position

Isawthiscoming

December 3rd, 2012
10:51 pm

Who dat? We dat. NFC Champs. Hire the egg thrower. He is our MVP. Rise Up!

JSS

December 3rd, 2012
11:27 pm

Hey Yo man check your filter LOL

Michael M.

December 3rd, 2012
11:46 pm

Darn, I thought he was just cruising along doing about 65 mph…………………Floor that dang thing there Smitty……………just floor it for all she has !

Mora less Petrino

December 4th, 2012
12:10 am

How did the Giants (7-5), Bears (8-4), and 49ers (8-3-1), all teams that are “far superior” to the Falcons, all lose this week?
The Giants have been beaten by the Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins! How did ATL come out against those three?
The 49ers are 0-1-1 against the mighty Rams! SF has to play at New England on Dec. 16th.
These teams will be doing good to finish with 11 wins.

DR. FALCON

December 4th, 2012
12:20 am

NFC SOUTH CHAMPS!!! HEY HIRAMSAINT, AND SEENTGISB4, EAT YOU HEART OUT! CHEATERS NEVER WIN! LOL! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

ARCHIEKINS

December 4th, 2012
12:32 am

“EAT YOU HEART OUT! CHEATERS NEVER WIN!”……so who won SB 44?????

Mora less Petrino

December 4th, 2012
12:41 am

Another item of note; The Falcons are 4-0 against the AFC West, which is the same as Denver and better than the other three within their division, (SD 3-2, Oak 1-2, and KC 0-4).
The Birds are 3-0 against the NFC East, which is as many wins as Dallas has at 3-2, and Washington at 3-1, while NY is 2-3 and Philly 1-3 in division play.

Falcons Rule.

December 4th, 2012
12:58 am

Should be a walk in the park this weekend……ANGRY BIRDS 52 – kittens 6…..the kittens have packed it in. Only a matter of time until we get our hands on that trophy. 18-1 baby……BOOK IT!!!!!!

Jessica Dorrel

December 4th, 2012
1:24 am

Hey Bobby, can I get a ride?

OHIOdirtybird!!!

December 4th, 2012
1:25 am

@Falcon Fan, I agree, if/when this team gets some confidence come play off time, WATCH OUT NFL!!!!….We got potential to be REAL dangerous!!!!

Dylan

December 4th, 2012
1:28 am

The state of Georgia needs a championship team! I feel confident the falcons will be that. The falcons have yet to play a complete game (offense, defense and special teams playing well at the SAME TIME) but we are 11-1. We have an offense capable of shredding any defense when they are clicking, we have a defense capable of winning games even when the offense is slacking, we have one of the best kickers in the league who is PERFECT on the season is field goals 50+ yards.

The falcons have the offense, defense, and coches to win it all. I am confident they will get over the hump this year.

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Atlanta, Falcons, happy, keep, metal, pedal, plan, Title. Bookmark the permalink. ← Andy Dalton’s 6-yard TD lifts Cincinnati Bengals over San Diego Chargers [...]

Eric C.

December 4th, 2012
5:08 am

It looks very likely that the Packers will be coming in for the divisional round. The Falcons better polish up their offensive skills for that game or it will be another one and done.

Samuel

December 4th, 2012
6:52 am

Once they get the monkey off their back and win a playoff game, I think the sky is the limit…..

Gary 32

December 4th, 2012
7:34 am

We are not as good as the Niners….Giants…Bears….Packers….just look at their records…(uh nevermind)

Esquire

December 4th, 2012
7:39 am

Intellectual Ninja
December 3rd, 2012
8:24 pm

It’s funny…

… because of playing to win, Mike Smith always plays not to lose.

************************************************
Wait, what’s that knock at your door. Holy Cow, it’s Mensa trying to figure out how they’ve missed you. Oh, whoops, you answered the door wearing your dunce hat, That’s ok, they would have eventually figured it out.

Esquire

December 4th, 2012
8:08 am

Eric C.
December 4th, 2012
5:08 am

It looks very likely that the Packers will be coming in for the divisional round. The Falcons better polish up their offensive skills for that game or it will be another one and done.
************************************************
I don’t usually look ahead but I wasn’t sure why you posted this. Most likely you got a big wad of cheese on your head. But I wanted to compare these 2 teams and see where they stand stats wise in the league. We stand out on offense against them and defense is pretty close except in points and that is where we have shined all year long. Frankly I think we put the pack in a sack and ship ‘em back to the frozen tundra.

Atlanta Offense
PTS 26.4 (7th) YDS 377.3 (9th) PASS YDS 286.1 (4th) RUSH YDS 91.2 (28th)
Green Bay Offense
PTS 24.7 (12th) YDS 350.6 (16th) PASS YDS 245.6 (11th) RUSH YDS 105.0 (20th)

ATL Defense
PTS 19.1 (5th) YDS 352.5 (18th)PASS YDS 231.2 (15th) RUSH YDS 121.3 (20th)
Green Bay Defense
PTS 21.6 (13th) YDS 349.0 (15th) PASS YDS 233.8 (17th) RUSH YDS 115.2 (15th)

But we got a game Sunday against a NFC South rival………………………….time to move on, last place or not, they are a NFC rival and we should think in terms of pummel, pound, and punish.
Falcons Offense
PTS 26.4 (8th) YDS 377.3 (9th) PASS YDS 286.1 (4th) RUSH YDS 91.2 (28th)
Panthers Defense
PTS 24.3 (20th) YDS 347.8 (14th) PASS YDS 218.9 (8th) RUSH YDS 128.8 (25th)
Panthers Offense
PTS 19.6 (23rd) YDS 343.6 (18th) PASS YDS 230.8 (16th) RUSH YDS 112.8 (16th)
Falcons Defense
PTS 19.1 (5th) YDS 352.5 (18th) PASS YDS 231.2 (15th) RUSH YDS 121.3 (21st)

WE ARE THE MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS…………..!!!!

Jimmy Crack

December 4th, 2012
8:13 am

REST ASANTE AT LEAST UNTIL THE GIANTS GAME.

There is absolutely no need to try to play Samuel in the game against Carolina as hurt as he appears.

He may be the most important player in these upcoming playoffs. REST HIM.

GregKennesaw

December 4th, 2012
8:23 am

SAS – read the news sometime dude, Babin was picked up by Jacksonville last week

Whadda Ya Know?

December 4th, 2012
8:34 am

Falcons Rule…no team is ever a walk in the park. Did you see the way Carolina played us the last time? What you smokin?

Esquire

December 4th, 2012
8:49 am

JSS
December 3rd, 2012
11:27 pm

Hey Yo man check your filter LOL
*******************************************

If you are DLed’s HVAC man shouldn’t you check his filter?

Esquire

December 4th, 2012
9:02 am

Falcons prevail, end Brees TD streak
Atlanta became the first team ever to intercept Drew Brees five times and also ended his NFL-record streak of TD passes en route to a 23-13 victory over the Caints Thursday night

**********************************

It’s still a sweet taste of victory!!!!

Esquire

December 4th, 2012
9:03 am

DLed writes: “After defeating the New Orleans $aints 23-12 on Thursday, Falcons coach Mike Smith gave the team four days off.”

Better check that score!

North FLA Falcon

December 4th, 2012
9:13 am

The Panthers are going to be playing p*ssed off. They were the sacrificial lambs for the feel-good Chiefs to win on Sunday after their tragedy! Cam is going to look for revenge. They have Peppers and Keuchely on defense and they know Ryan well. Ryan can get a bit predictable in his passes sometimes. I think we do have the superior team but we can’t let this one slip away! The Gians come calling next week!!!

Main Man

December 4th, 2012
9:13 am

[...] The Falcons won’t have any more padded practices. [...]

North FLA Falcon

December 4th, 2012
9:27 am

I think the key right now is keeping Ryan healthy. With the Giants and Lions coming up we need to keep him upright. Do we really want Luke McCown leading us into the playoffs? The Oline needs to “RISE UP” and protect Matty. Oh, and some good run blocking would be nice also.

RunninWithTheDawgs

December 4th, 2012
9:39 am

If we win all that is available and there are still games left on the schedule let the players rest up and get healthy and by all means give Matt Ryan as much rest as possible before the playoffs begin. If Ryan gets hurt our season is over, and the way our offensive line is protecting him he could end up hurt playing in a game that doesn’t even matter. Some folks are even suggesting that Ryan needs to start scrambling around to avoid being sacked. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
” GO FALCONS ” !

1998 Was Our Year

December 4th, 2012
9:42 am

I’m not getting my hopes up:/

NeverSeenThis

December 4th, 2012
10:05 am

@northFLAFalcon I dont think they have peppers anymore he plays for chicago

Esquire

December 4th, 2012
10:10 am

North FLA Falcon
December 4th, 2012
9:27 am

I think the key right now is keeping Ryan healthy. With the Giants and Lions coming up we need to keep him upright. Do we really want Luke McCown leading us into the playoffs? The Oline needs to “RISE UP” and protect Matty. Oh, and some good run blocking would be nice also.

****************************************
Maybe you shouldn’t disregard the Panthers game. Carolina sacked Ryan 7 times for 64 yards in the first meeting. They also rushed for 199 yards. Forget NY and the Lions, we got a game on Sunday.