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.
OTHER RECENT NEWS