LIVE: Falcons have chance to clinch playoff bye (or more)

Stopping Carolina starts with stopping Cam Newton for the Falcons. (AP photo)

Stopping the Carolina Panthers starts with stopping Cam Newton for the Falcons. (AP photo)

CHARLOTTE — Good morning. When I walked out of the deck parking lot toward the media entrance of the stadium (a healthy walk here at Bank of America Stadium), there was only a slight drizzle. But a few minutes later, the skies opened up, I got drenched and it totally ruined my coiffure.

(Go ahead, I’ll give you a few minutes to laugh. … Waiting. … Still waiting. … )

So yes, it is raining here in Charlotte. The forecast says there’s only a 10 percent chance of showers, but that 10 percent clearly resides on this block. So at the very least, the field will be slippery for the Falcons’ game against the Carolina Panthers today.

Some folks around the Falcons are worried about this game. The Panthers are only 3-9 but seven of those losses have come by six points or less (one in overtime). The Falcons were fortunate to rally and beat Carolina 30-28 on a last-minute field goal drive in Week 4.

Tackle Tyson Clabo said of the Panthers, “They’re the exact opposite team of us. They’re in every game but somehow they find a way lose. We’re in every game and we find a way to win. It only takes a bounce of the ball here or there to change the whole thing. They’re a good team and they’ll be at home.”

The X-factor for Carolina obviously is Cam Newton. Every week it seems like there are new stories that quote anonymous players, questioning Newton’s attitude and leadership. Personally, I don’t like anonymous quotes. But the questions about Newton’s maturity have been there from day one so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to all of this and whether he grows from it. If he goes in the wrong direction, the Panthers are sunk because they’ve invested a lot in him from a financial and marketing standpoint.

Back to the Falcons. At 11-1, they’ve already clinched a playoff berth and the NFC South Division. They can clinch one of the top two seeds — and therefore a first-round bye — with a win over Carolina and ONE of the following two scenarios: 1) A San Francisco loss (home vs. Miami: OR 2) Chicago loss or tie (at Minnesota) and a Green Bay loss or tie (home vs. Detroit). A tie with Carolina and losses by Chicago and Green Bay also would clinch the bye.

The Falcons would clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed and home field through the playoffs with a win, AND a loss by San Francisco AND losses or ties by Chicago and Green Bay.

With college football winding down (pre-bowls), the amount of Falcons’ content in the AJC went up this week. Here’s a sampling, with links:

– My column on the Falcons realizing they have some flaws to correct in these final four games.

– My column on John Abraham and another double-digit sack season at the age of 34.

– Barrister Ledbetter’s Q-and-A with wide receiver Julio Jones.

– Ledbetter’s story on Jacquizz Rodgers’ work load possibly going up.

– Tim Tucker’s story on how the Falcons’ proposed new stadium deal breaks down.

Here’s a link to the AJC’s Falcons page if you’re looking for more.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll post the inactives in the comments section below.

Any thoughts on today’s game? And what are you hoping to see from the Falcons today?

I’m here to serve.

By Jeff Schultz

1,276 comments Add your comment

Jeff Schultz

December 9th, 2012
11:50 am

The big news on inactives: William Moore is out with a hamstring strain.

Here are the inactives: Falcons: QB Dominique Davis, WR Tim Toone, S William Moore (hamstring); G Phillipkeith Manley, G Harland Gunn, DE Lawrence Sidbury, DT Travian Robertson. … Panthers: QB Jimmy Clausen, WR Brandon LaFell, RB Jonathan Stewart, LB James Anderson, G/C Jeff Byers, T Bruce Campbell, DT Dwan Edwards.

Bravissimo

December 9th, 2012
11:58 am

stay dry Jeff. Go Birds!!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 9th, 2012
12:01 pm

2 tds & 6 picks in last 3, and 13 total, putting him 3 off the NFL lead. Looks like ole CHOKE is in his rare 1st round form.

I hope you guys haven’t made any January reservations :)

Steve

December 9th, 2012
12:06 pm

Hey Jeff, you were “first!” Good work.

Matt "11-1" Ryan

December 9th, 2012
12:17 pm

RISE UP NUMBER 12 !

Matt "11-1" Ryan

December 9th, 2012
12:19 pm

Hey CHOKE, go cheer for the miserable sAints and Eagles.

lowdownjj

December 9th, 2012
12:31 pm

Suprised to see Moore on the DNP list all week at practice. He musta pulled his hammy on that last INT Thurs night. Wish somebody would hide Asante’s helmet. We need Dabba Deuce healthy for the post season

Answer This

December 9th, 2012
12:32 pm

Hey Choke……hows your QB doing? Lol! 12 weeks and you still having to eat your words….are you not full yet? COME ON MAN!
Checking in Nation…..TIME TO RISE UP! See you Angry Birds throughout the game!

5150 UOAD

December 9th, 2012
12:37 pm

With a LOT of help the Falcons can wrap up Home Field. Need to win first and have 4 others to lose.

Esquire

December 9th, 2012
12:40 pm

A shout out to ATL’s GLBT community! And to my straight friends too! Let’s go get those cats!

5-6-7-8
Everywhere we goooO,
Everywhere we goooO,
People wanna knooOw,
People wanna knooOw,
Who we aaa are,
Who we aaa are,
So we tell theem, So we tell theem,
We are the FALCONS!! We are the FALCONS!!
MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS, MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS !!
OHH AHH OHH YEEAHH

jo

December 9th, 2012
12:42 pm

Just heard Carolina players getting themselves ready to play by saying the falcons aren’t special…I sure hope the falcons are listening and shut them up!

5150 UOAD

December 9th, 2012
12:43 pm

Lets all agree to NOT RESPOND to “choke” at all today.

He doesn’t know ANYTHING and has nothing to cheer about.

“Choke” is ready to Eat his Brees Jock and Burn his Vick Jock over their seasons.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
12:49 pm

The QB that Choke loves is out of a job! LMAO…Go Falcons! Beat the Panthers!

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
12:50 pm

@ Jo, what are they supposed to say? The Falcons are going to throttle us today? They have to give themselves confidence or they have no shot. If they really thought we weren’t special they wouldn’t have said it. Think if they were playing the Chiefs they would have said that? Oh wait….

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
12:51 pm

Falcons only need 2 more wins to clinch home field. And can do it today with some help.

Atlfalconsfan0125

December 9th, 2012
12:52 pm

Why is Asante Samuel playing? We dont need this win. Smith should have rested him.

Sav FAN

December 9th, 2012
12:52 pm

Lets all agree to NOT RESPOND to “choke” at all today.

Choke is a joke-but fun to read -he has no clue

Jeff Schultz

December 9th, 2012
12:55 pm

Steve — I’ve been practicing.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:00 pm

@AtlFalconsFan0125, yes we do need this win. Do not count it as “just another game”…this is another game in our quest for home field. Yes we need it. Especially with the Giants next week.

Jeff Schultz

December 9th, 2012
1:01 pm

Carolina wins toss, decides to take the ball. First time all year Carolina has won the toss.

Dt

December 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

5150 UOAD

December 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

Why is Asante Samuel playing?

We need all the wins but we Don’t need Asante to Win THIS game. He needs to rest as much as he can. That Shoulder will not get better but it can get worse.

Buzziswiser

December 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

Hey Jeff, I see you finally made it to Charlotte. Missed you last Saturday for the ACCCG. Think it was your turn to cover the Jackets. The AJC should make you pay your own way to El Paso with a one way ticket to Juarez.

goFalcons

December 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!

Steve

December 9th, 2012
1:03 pm

Any word on when playoff tickets will be on sale?

5150 UOAD

December 9th, 2012
1:03 pm

STUPID……………..they WANT the ball?

We will stop them and take the lead.

Steve

December 9th, 2012
1:04 pm

The AJC asking Jeff or Mark to fly to El Paso to cover Tech would be a punishment.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:05 pm

Jeff Schultz

December 9th, 2012
1:06 pm

Newton has completed his first 3 passes.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:06 pm

We gotta knock em back on 1st and 10. Get them behind the chains.

Dt

December 9th, 2012
1:07 pm

We need a stop

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:07 pm

Defense needs to get off the field.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:08 pm

Vikings just took the lead on the Bears. We need to get this win today!

DawgNole

December 9th, 2012
1:08 pm

Atlfalconsfan0125
December 9th, 2012
12:52 pm

Why is Asante Samuel playing? We dont need this win. Smith should have rested him.
_____________________

We DON’t need this win???

Classic loser mentality.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:09 pm

Defense is getting gashed and can’t get off the field.

George

December 9th, 2012
1:09 pm

Panthers starting off good. Look at Tolbert go.

Dt

December 9th, 2012
1:09 pm

Hold them to 3 pts

Jeff Schultz

December 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

Very efficient drive so far by Panthers. Conservative but working.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

They are eating up so much clock. Matt Ryan and company might not touch the ball till 2 minutes left with the way our defense is playing.

Atlfalconsfan0125

December 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

@ Dawg nole

Loser Mentality? We need asante healthy for the playoffs. Winning a playoff game is more important that beating the panthers.

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

Damn it defense!

DawgNole

December 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

5150 UOAD
December 9th, 2012
1:03 pm

STUPID……………..they WANT the ball?

We will stop them and take the lead.
_____________________

How’s that again?

Dt

December 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

Looks like a shootout

5150 UOAD

December 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

Damn Damn damn…..that looked too easy but long time to play.

J.J.M.

December 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

Smh how you blitz and still get no pressure…same crap week after week from this defense

Freddie

December 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

WTF was DeCoud doing on that play? Held Brees out of the endzone but give up a touchdown to Cam on the first drive? I don’t get it. Our offense has to do their part now.

Jeff Schultz

December 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

Nice pass by Newton. Touchdown to Greg Olson who beat DeCoud in man coverage. That also was third third-down conversion of drive. Panthers go 77 yds in 11 plays. It’s 7-0.

pigskin

December 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

Well, that was too easy.

DawgNole

December 9th, 2012
1:13 pm

Atlfalconsfan0125
December 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

@ Dawg nole

Loser Mentality? We need asante healthy for the playoffs. Winning a playoff game is more important that beating the panthers.
______________________

Does losing to the Panthers guarantee a playoff game win? Hell no! You play to WIN the game. Loser.

goFalcons

December 9th, 2012
1:15 pm

They just made the Falcons mad! Isoroku Yamamoto said it best…They have awaken a sleeping giant. Go Falcons