LIVE: Falcons close season (but will it mean anything)? (UPDATE: It does: Lions’ loss means Falcons would face winner of Dallas-NYG)

Detroit just took a 16-10 lead over Green Bay on the Georgia Dome video board.

Detroit just took a 16-10 lead over Green Bay on the Georgia Dome video board.

(UPDATE: Detroit’s 45-41 loss to Green Bay means if the Falcons defeat Tampa Bay, they will be the NFC’s No. 5 seed and will face the winner of tonight’s New York-Dallas game next week in the playoffs.)

In the interest of full disclosure, here goes: I hardly thought about the Falcons all week.

I don’t know if it was the holidays, or the hangover from last week’s annihilation in New Orleans, or just the thought that today’s game against Tampa Bay might be rendered meaningless. But I’m thinking that when it’s the final regular season game for a playoff team and they’ve slipped off the radar, that’s a problem.

First, let’s break down exactly what this game means: Possibly nothing. The Green Bay Packers are resting their starters today against Detroit (as I type this the Lions lead 19-17). If the Lions win, they’ll clinch the No. 5 seed, will play the winner of the NFC East (Dallas or New York) in the first round of the playoffs and the Falcons would be locked into the sixth seed (playing at the No. 3 seed, either New Orleans or San Francisco). If Green Bay wins, the Falcons can win the No. 5 seed with a win over the Buccaneers, then must await the winner of tonight’s Cowboys-Giants game to see who wins the East.

If the Lions win and the Tampa Bay game is rendered meaningless, I would expect the Falcons to treat today as an exhibition and rest most of their starters (or at least play them very little).  Anyway, I’ll update this when we know more.

For now, here are a few items of interest:

Tight end Tony Gonzalez is not retiring after this season. We know this for certain because the Falcons announced a little while ago that they have signed him to a one year extension, via D. Orlando Ledbetter. Gonzalez was just voted to his 12th Pro Bowl, has 79 receptions, seven touchdowns and actually has a slim chance to hit 1,000 yards for only the fourth time in his career with a monster game (he needs 133 yards).

Running back Michael Turner has been struggling with a groin injury and the numbers reflect it. In the five games since rushing for 100 yards against Tennessee on Nov. 20, Turner has carried 84 times for only 280 yards (averages of 3.3 per carry and 56 per game). He looks worn down. But in his defense, the Falcons’ offensive line has had issues most of the season.

The Falcons’ 45-16 loss at New Orleans last week was 10 ways of ugly and the most lopsided defeat of coach Mike Smith’s tenure. Regardless of whether the Saints are really that good or the Falcons are really that bad, it wasn’t a good sign for a team coming off a 10-day layoff. The Falcons have had consistency problems all season and they’ve struggled against good teams. So how they respond to that today will be interesting.

I wrote a blog the other day, asking what you believed would qualify as a successful season for the Falcons. The answers were all over the board and the poll (still open) was pretty close. After over 1,500 votes, 33 percent voted one playoff win, 29 percent said winning the Super Bowl, 27 percent said two playoff wins. Click the above link to vote and see the results.

That’s it for now. I’ll update this when we get a final from Green Bay. Until then, you’re welcome to vent on what you think of this Falcons’ team right now.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

1,008 comments Add your comment

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
2:43 pm

The ROOKIE Cam Newton 17 1st half points vs Saints…………….

All you need to know about CHOKE :)

Dr. Warren

January 1st, 2012
2:44 pm

The Falcons need this win to re-establish their confidence and momentum.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
2:44 pm

Well folks come gett your last love fest for the 2008 BUST because just like

Winter, CHOKE will be performing his ANNUAL CHOKE FESTIVITIES :)

5150 UOAD

January 1st, 2012
2:45 pm

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
2:46 pm

Confidience?

Momentum?

I thought we were talking about the Falcants and not a pep rally for the GOP Iowa Caucus :)

Dr. Warren

January 1st, 2012
2:46 pm

It is only you and me, CHOKE. I got a ticket to the symphony I can have messengered over to you today. Free.

Dr. Warren

January 1st, 2012
2:47 pm

Unless you’d be more interested in a ticket to the spelling bee??

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
2:49 pm

@Dr. Warren

You may have a point with the spelling bee, because I can’t seem to locate “messengered” in the dictionary :)

Big Enos Burdette

January 1st, 2012
2:51 pm

Well “Choke” you might be a horse’s butt, but you’re probably right.

JSS

January 1st, 2012
2:52 pm

@ Jeff Schultz…
Happy 2nd New Year!
Oh yeah, that is “brown nosing” and trying to be your peer! (RME)!!!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
2:54 pm

If you think about it, 2007 was actually a better year than the ones to follow.

I mean with Joey Harrington, at least it didn’t cost 72 million to SUCK :)

JSS

January 1st, 2012
2:54 pm

Hey MCR, are you Man-Of-War or Secretariat’s behind?

Dawg48

January 1st, 2012
2:55 pm

Big Enos Burdette

January 1st, 2012
2:56 pm

JSS,
They all smell the same

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
2:57 pm

@JSS

I will have to get back to you on that.

It all depends on when you will next find Mrs. Charlie in his undisclose bunker at D3 Blog :)

JSS

January 1st, 2012
3:00 pm

BEB… Only if you’re standing behind them and chasing them!

@ MCR… “Winning!” What a moron!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
3:01 pm

An even more unpleasant smell is the consistent CHOKING of a football team :)

I mean under the Smitty/CHOKE era, we could be watching 2 superbowls for the Saints

and the Falcants will be playoff winless…………..

Does the smell get any more fowl than that?

HA HA HA :)

Dr. Warren

January 1st, 2012
3:03 pm

Choke–good try. See you in the playoffs–or as you would say, the “play-offs.”

“6. verb (used with object) to send by messenger.”

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/messenger

JSS

January 1st, 2012
3:04 pm

If you can’t see the difference between the Saints and Falcons explosive capabilities from this game, you’re a dead-ender!

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
3:05 pm

Well right now it looks like MCR is in the lead so,,,

katherine

January 1st, 2012
3:05 pm

hey everyone,

Happy New Year!

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
3:07 pm

Drew Brees just makes it look easy,, its called execution…

JSS

January 1st, 2012
3:07 pm

Troy Aikman referring to last Monday night:
“Atlanta doesn’t want to come back here (New Orleans)!”

katherine

January 1st, 2012
3:07 pm

SS
January 1st, 2012
3:04 pm

If you can’t see the difference between the Saints and Falcons explosive capabilities from this game, you’re a dead-ender!

The saints are a better team this year,,,,,but as we all know anything can and does happen in the playoffs. It should be exciting…..why don’t you all stop with the pissing match and act like grown ups for a change

Big Enos Burdette

January 1st, 2012
3:08 pm

JSS,
No, you can pretty much smell them from anywhere in the barnyard

Jeff Schultz

January 1st, 2012
3:09 pm

CB Brent Grimes is inactive for the Falcons. Not sure if it’s his knee flaring up but he didn’t practice Friday. Also inactive for the Falcons: QB John Parker Wilson, LB Stephen Nicholas, C Brett Romberg, T Kirk Chambers, WR Kerry Meier, DE Cliff Matthews.

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
3:09 pm

Happy New Year Chiquita.

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
3:10 pm

It really doesnt matter if you respond to him or not,,, he’s like the energizer bunny,,,,

katherine

January 1st, 2012
3:10 pm

so what did you all do to ring in the new year?

Big Enos Burdette

January 1st, 2012
3:12 pm

Darlin’ katherine,

This aint facebook

5150 UOAD

January 1st, 2012
3:12 pm

Kat chatted with you a lil on the Tech game blog. Hahahah

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
3:13 pm

Boy thats a loaded question.

JSS

January 1st, 2012
3:13 pm

Katherine…
They (the Saints) are not limping into the playoffs with no running backs and a depleted linebacking corps this year…

This could shape up to be best NFC playoffs since the 1984 one when all of the monsters were in their prime! Well once they get rid of some of the pretenders (hopefully) in round 1!

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
3:14 pm

I gotta go tend my meat,,, i’ll be back later.

Jeff Schultz

January 1st, 2012
3:14 pm

JSS — Thanks, you too. And I’m quite sure you’re incapable of brown nosing. Besides, I’d think less of you if you did.

katherine

January 1st, 2012
3:14 pm

this isnt facebook? really? lol i realize that…was just making idle chat before the falcons game

JSS

January 1st, 2012
3:15 pm

Wow, Sporles!!! Send the fine!

Jeff Schultz

January 1st, 2012
3:15 pm

Matt “Choke” Ryan — OK, seriously now. We all know ultimately you get judged on postseasons. But do you really want to go as far to say that Matt Ryan sucks? I mean, where would you rank him among NFL quarterbacks?

katherine

January 1st, 2012
3:16 pm

jss i agree the saints are a good team…but you never know when a team like the rams or bucs might just take them down……so dont get too full of yourself just yet

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
3:16 pm

Big Enos Burdette

January 1st, 2012
3:12 pm

Darlin’ katherine,

This aint facebook

_________________________________________

Be careful 5150 TOAD don’t like you speaking with his woman :)

Big Enos Burdette

January 1st, 2012
3:17 pm

your point proved mine

Jeff Schultz

January 1st, 2012
3:17 pm

JSS — “Troy Aikman referring to last Monday night:
“Atlanta doesn’t want to come back here (New Orleans)!”

<<< Of course, they’ll say, “This is the game we wanted.” But they’ll be lying.

Rise Up And Spuew

January 1st, 2012
3:18 pm

This May Be Hard To Swallow, Best To Lose Out And Get Rid Of Our Current Staff.Window Is Closing On This Teams Tallent.At Some Point Smith Has To Be Held Accountable 4 The Sorry D/C And O/C He Has Brought In And Is 2 Stubborn 2 Get Rid Of.Plus All The Poor Drafts Our Current GM Has Had.You Cant Continue 2 Wiff On High Picks Such As Baker,Jerry,Owens,Decloud,Middlton,Sidbury,Then Blow The Whole Draft 4 More O When You Have No Pass Rush Or Secondary.

Jeff Schultz

January 1st, 2012
3:18 pm

5150 UOAD — Really? Keep it clean. Deleted your comment (and the response, which copied it).

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 1st, 2012
3:19 pm

@Jeff

When you are paid 72 million and has ZERO playoff wins to show for, if that doesn’t suck I don’t
know what does :)

5150 UOAD

January 1st, 2012
3:19 pm

JSS

January 1st, 2012
3:20 pm

@ Jeff Schultz…
You’re welcome…

You were covered the Niners when they were great… Do you remember the last time the NFC last possibly this stacked with offensive explosiveness?

katherine

January 1st, 2012
3:20 pm

I think any talk about getting rid of mike smith or matt ryan are ridiculous

Big Enos Burdette

January 1st, 2012
3:20 pm

MCR,
I think he probably ought to. he’s a man that knows his limitations

katherine

January 1st, 2012
3:22 pm

Jeff, did you have a nice new year’s eve?