Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

Atlanta Falcons: Looking to stay home for the playoffs

FLOWERY BRANCH–Just one good night in Detroit will set the Falcons up for a relatively relaxed three weeks in Atlanta.

Win at Detroit on Saturday and the Falcons (12-2) will earn a bye for the first weekend of the playoffs and wouldn’t need to leave the Georgia Dome to win the NFC title. The result of their game against the Buccaneers on Dec. 30 would become moot.

For the Falcons, it’s all about clinching home field when they go to Detroit’s Ford Field.

“That’s the thing that is in reach,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We’ve got to go out and play effectively this week. Our goal is to win every game we play and then we will figure out what happens after that.”

Defeat the Lions (4-10) and Falcons players are likely to be off until after Christmas Day. When they returned to work, the team’s regulars would enjoy a light practice week and look forward to either sitting out the Buccaneers game or logging just a handful of plays.

Lose to the Lions and Atlanta still could earn …

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Atlanta Falcons: Sam Baker bounces back

FLOWERY BRANCH–Playing left tackle in the NFL is one of the toughest jobs in sports.

Trying to do it with a balky back — and who knows what else — like Falcons tackle Sam Baker did for who knows how long, makes it nearly impossible.

As Baker struggled last season and eventually lost his job, his linemates kept saying his health was the issue. But in the cold, bottom-line business of professional football, the reasons for Baker’s struggle hardly mattered. He had to play better.

He’s doing so now, in no small part because he’s also healthier now. So it’s satisfying for Baker to have the kind of season that he and his teammates always knew he could.

“For all these guys that have always had my back and stood by me, to be back playing well feels real good right now,” Baker said.

When the Falcons selected Baker with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2008 draft, it was with the idea that he would be a building block along with quarterback Matt Ryan. They had selected Ryan 13 spots …

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Atlanta Falcons: If the playoffs started today . . .

If the playoffs started today …

NFC top contenders

The Falcons (12-2), who have clinched a playoff spot, would be the No. 1 seed with a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Atlanta would open the playoffs on Jan. 12 or 13 against the lowest-seeded team to advance from the NFC wild card round.

The 49ers (10-3-1), who have clinched a playoff spot, would be the No. 2 seed with a first-round bye. San Francisco would open the playoffs on Jan. 12 or 13 with a home game against the highest-seeded winner from the NFC wild card round.

NFC wild card picture

The third-seeded Packers (10-4) have clinched a playoff spot would play host to the sixth-seeded Vikings (8-6) on Jan. 5 or 6. The No.5 Seahawks (9-5) would play the No. 4 Redskins (8-6) on Jan. 5 or 6.

The other teams with a realistic chance of still earning a wild card are the Cowboys (8-6), Giants (8-6) and Bears (8-6). The Rams (6-7-1) and Saints (6-8) are also still technically alive.

How …

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Atlanta Falcons: Disguised coverages have led to interceptions

FLOWERY BRANCH –  The Falcons had two interceptions against the Giants to give them 18 for the season, which ranks fourth in the league. Only Chicago (21), Giants (20) and Arizona (22) have more interceptions.

The Falcons are also plus-9 in takeaways, which is eighth in the league before Monday’s night game between the New York Jets and Tennessee.

To go with their 18 interceptions, the Falcons have nine fumble recoveries for 27 turnovers. The offense has 14 interceptions and four fumbles for 18 turnovers.

The defense has recorded six games with two interceptions are more. They are 6-0 in those contests.

Players credit the ability to disguise their coverages as the key to interceptions.

“If we can confuse a quarterback and make him throw it somewhere where he wasn’t expecting to throw it, or after play-fake, look back and see a completely different coverage, it helps us out exponentially,” said safety Thomas DeCoud, who leads the team with six interceptions. “It’s (paid) …

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Atlanta Falcons: What they said after 34-0 Falcons victory over Giants

“They don’t remember what you do in September and October. It’s all about December and January. We’ve been saying we haven’t played our best. We haven’t played our best game and when we watch the game tomorrow, we’ll probably have that same opinion.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith

“Those three fourth-down stops are like turnovers. We know that when you make them as a football team, it can change the momentum. It multiplies when you stop them on defense.”

Smith

“Coach Smith does a great job at the beginning of the year preaching that he wants to win at home and defend our dome. We’ve done a good job of that. I think our fans have been awesome and they’ve been loud in the dome. I think that helps when our defense is playing.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on the team’s 11-game home winning streak

“It feels great to play that well on both sides of the ball, especially after last week (a 30-20 defeat to the Panthers). If we can keep this momentum and passion going, I think the …

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Week 15: Falcons playoff scenarios

ATLANTA FALCONS

Atlanta clinches a first-round bye:

1) ATL win + GB loss or tie

2) ATL win + SF loss

3) ATL tie + GB loss

Atlanta clinches homefield advantage:

1) ATL win + GB loss or tie + SF loss

LATEST NEWS

Roddy White, William Moore are questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon takes over as leader of the defense

Giants at Falcons: 4 key matchups

Falcons rewind: Reeves reflects on march to the Super Bowl

Who’s the best receiving tandem? Roddy & Julio? Cruz & Nicks?

Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback Matt Ryan is not going over the physical cliff

OTHER RECENT NEWS
Panthers hold on to defeat Falcons 30-20

Report card: Falcons grades for loss to Panthers

Falcons quoteboard after the 30-20 loss to the Panthers

Run defense goes back to the drawing board

NBC’s Rodney Harrison is not a big fan of the Falcons

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

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Giants at Falcons: 4 key matchups

Giants WR Victor Cruz vs. Falcons CB Robert McClain: Cruz leads the Giants in receptions with 76 catches for 1,004 yards and nine touchdowns. The Falcons held him to two catches for 28 yards in the playoff meeting last season. McClain has continued his fine play this season. He has eight pass breakups and 52 tackles, according to coaches’ film review.

Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Falcons LT Sam Baker: Pierre-Paul leads the Giants with 6.5 sacks. He spent most of the playoff game in the Falcons’ backfield. He finished with eight tackles and made two tackles for losses. Baker missed the last meeting after undergoing back surgery.

Giants RB David Wilson vs. Falcons MLB Akeem Dent: Wilson, a rookie from Virginia Tech, had his first 100-yard rushing game last week against the Saints and had two touchdowns, including a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter. With Ahmad Bradshaw nursing a sprained knee, Wilson could become the main ball carrier. Dent has to step forward and become …

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Who’s the best receiving tandem? Roddy & Julio or Cruz & Nicks?

FLOWERY BRANCH – Back before the Falcons played the Cowboys, Roddy White sat down with Michael “The Playmaker”

Who’s the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL?

  • Atlanta — Roddy White and Julio Jones (140 catches, 2,137 yards, 12 TDS)
  • New York Giants — Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks (126-1,656-12)
  • Dallas — Dez Bryant and Miles Austin (138-1,987-16)
  • Detroit — Calvin Johnson and Titus Young (129-1,929-9)

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Irvin and discussed the state of the wide receiver position in the NFL.

Here’s a link to that blog:

Michael Irvin, Hall of Fame playmaker, visited Flowery Branch last week and interviewed White and teammate Julio Jones. Irvin asked White if Atlanta’s duo is better than Cowboys wide receiver tandem Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.

“You serious?” White said, an appropriate response to that question.

Are they better than the Giants’ pair, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz?

“We are a better group than them,” White said, a less obvious …

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Atlanta Falcons: Bosher named teams man of year candidate

Atlanta defenders James Sanders, left, and Atlanta punter Matt Bosher, right, tackle Seattle's Leon Washington (33) as Washington makes a 33-yard punt return last seasonAP

Atlanta defenders James Sanders, left, and Atlanta punter Matt Bosher, right, tackle Seattle’s Leon Washington (33) as Washington makes a 33-yard punt return last seasonAP

FLOWERY BRANCH — Punter Matt Bosher was named the Atlanta Falcons’ nominee for the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award on Tuesday.

Bosher, a two-year veteran with the Atlanta Falcons, is a 2010 graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in History.

“Receiving an award like this is truly humbling,” Bosher said in a statement. “I am very lucky and appreciate all the Atlanta Falcons organization has done to provide me with opportunities to give back to the community. Since my first day as an NFL player I have learned that I have the ability to make a difference.”

During the season, Bosher made five surprise visits to Gwinnett County Fire stations to thank service men and women for their hard work and dedication in the community in commemoration of September 11.

Along with fellow teammates, he …

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Atlanta Falcons: Giants QB Eli Manning Q-and-A

FLOWERY BRANCH–Excerpts from Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s conference call today with Atlanta reporters.

Q: What is about this team in December? It seems you turn it on.

A: A lot of times we are in that situation where need to win games to get into the playoffs. You’ve got to be excited about those opportunities and understand we are in a great position. But to hold on to the spot we’ve got to play our best football and find a way to win big games.

Q: Your rushing game has picked up with David Wilson. How is that able to help you?

A: Any time you can establish a good running game it always helps out and puts the defense on their heels a little bit. They don’t know if run or throwing and it slows down the pass rush. You’ve got to have a great mix of the run and pass. If you can get those safeties to stay high in a shell defense because they are scared of pass it should open up the run, and vice versa.

Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVP trophies. (Photo by Getty Images)

Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVP trophies. …

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