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  1. Article By: Luke Kerr-Dineen | December 28, 2016 12:08 pm Outside perhaps the Dallas Cowboys, there’s really only one team to beat in the NFL. It’s become such a common refrain in recent years that’s it’s borderline boring at this point, but it’s still true. Even without Gronk, even with a 39-year-old Tom Brady, the New England Patriots are the best team in the NFL. But the NFL playoffs aren’t there to sort out the best team. If you truly wanted to do that, you’d scrap them altogether, or you’d follow the lead of the NBA and adopt a seven game series. i CLOSE POWERED BY GIANTMEDIA No, the playoffs reward the best team on the night. It’s why the 16-0 Patriots can lose to the Giants, and the 15-1 Panthers can do the same against the Broncos. And it’s why, if the superior Patriots find themselves up against the Falcons this post-season, they could find themselves in some trouble. Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports It’s pretty simple: From the start 2014 season, including post-season games, the New England Patriots have lost just 11 games (let that sink in for a second). Two of its losses were meaningless week 17 games and another was that weird 16-0 Jacoby Brissett game earlier this season. Throw out those three outliers; the sheer number of points the Pats score stays relatively similar between the wins and losses. New England posts an average of just over 21 points in its losses, and about 30 points in its wins. It’s a swing of about a touchdown, but when you’re talking about tough battles against legitimately good teams — like the Seahawks, Chiefs and two against the Broncos — it’s not overly surprising. The biggest swing comes on the defensive side of the ball. In its wins, the Patriots restrict teams to an average of just over 16 points (again, let that sink in). When it loses, though, the team’s average number of points allowed spikes all the way to more than 30. It’s a hugely disproportionate swing. The formula for beating the Pats — if there is one — is not in trying to restrict their offense, but rather cracking them open on defense. Looking around the 2016 NFL playoff picture, and factoring-in Derek Carr’s devastating injury, there’s only one team best-equipped to do that. Which brings us to the Atlanta Falcons. GETTY This is not to disparage the great offensive play going on in Dallas right now, but even the most ardent Cowboys fan would admit that Atlanta’s offense is on another level. Atlanta score more points per game than any team in the NFL, and of teams involved in the playoffs, it’ll come in with the highest number of offensive yards, average yards per game, and expected points per game. They’ve done it all facing the toughest schedule in the league, and as ESPN’s Bill Barnwell notes, it’s good enough to rank them “in the 99th percentile of offenses since the AFL-NFL merger of 1970.” Teams can’t beat the Pats at their own game. As the league’s other best teams, notably the Seahawks, struggle to put up points and hope its defense carries them through, the Atlanta Falcons offer something totally different. They’re one dimensional in the extreme, and while that may hold them back in the early stages of the playoffs, it also might give them just what they need to pick New England’s lock. And in one, do-or-die game, that’s all you need.
  2. Don,t know if it's been posted. He'll miss at least the 1st half of the season.
  3. Here is a nice article from USA Today http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/bell-nfl-must-hammer-tom-brady-patriots-in-deflategate-aftermath/ar-BBjj59c The questioning is very reasonable and logic. I hope NFL comes out hard on Pats and Brady.
  4. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/falcons/2013/08/24/desmond-trufant-robert-alford-learn-roddy-white-julio-jones/2693793/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter Like i said in another post... If Mass can turn his flashes into production on the field and our 2 young CB's give us good play with flashes this year.... Our D can have some really good young peices for the future.
  5. http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/40996902/ FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons have a quarterback who, we’re led to believe, doesn’t sweat. Seriously. As in, perspire. Matt Ryan can go through a punishing three-hour workout, sit in the heated whirlpool at the team practice facility and then devour a plate of jalapenos for lunch and still stay as dry as a Seinfeld joke. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Falcons kicker Matt Bryant. “It’s something to behold.” Really? “No, not really.” You see, that’s the impression we get about Ryan, that he’s unflappable, never gets rattled, refuses to shiver or shake when a situation calls for urgency. The kind of guy who laughs at the slasher scene in a horror flick. This amazing sense of cool is a big reason the Falcons find themselves in the NFC title game, because their quarterback doesn’t flinch when a football game winds up and takes a swing at his facemask. But now, as Manti Te’o might say, there’s been some fabricating going on. “Well,” said running back Michael Turner, “I’ve seen Asante Samuel say some things that makes him turn red in the face. Asante knows what buttons to push. Matt’ll get a little flustered. You can embarrass him.” A locker room confession, then. On occasion, a teammate will do or say something to “Matty Ice” that will cause the kind of reaction the public rarely if ever sees. Yes, Ryan is known to raise an eyebrow at some of the lowbrow humor hurled his way, and although no one has actual proof in terms of still shots or video, Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud claims to be a witness. “Honestly, Matt is like one of the guys,” said DeCoud. “You give it to him, he gives it to you back. We give him ****, talk about him, crack jokes on him, all that. You can shake him up a bit. You can break him down. “But only in here,” said DeCoud, pointing around the locker room. “Not out there.” When the Falcons were left frozen and shell-shocked after the Seahawks rallied from 20-points down in the final minute to take a one-point lead last Sunday, the calmest person in the Georgia Dome walked over to his helmet and then his teammates. “Let’s go!” Ryan yelled. “Let’s do this. We’ve been in this position before. Let’s do our jobs.” Ryan had helped put the Falcons in that position with a poor throw that resulted in an interception on Atlanta’s previous possession. But that seemed like months ago, at least to him. “I wasn’t thinking about anything at that moment except winning the game,” he said, and in his mind, even with 25 seconds left and starting deep in his own end, there was no other option. Two completions later, the Falcons were in range of Bryant’s winning field goal, and here they are, a home, dome win away from the Super Bowl. “As a guy who’s been around for five years, an NFL game can be difficult and yet no matter the situation, you need to keep playing through it,” Ryan said. “If you’re worried about other things that people watching at home are thinking about, then you’re taking away from the things you need to do.” The Falcons have had Ryan for five years, enough time for him to show a confidence flaw that doesn’t appear to exist. He’s a clean-cut face of the franchise who’s thrown for almost 19,000 yards and 127 touchdowns with a 62-percent completion rate. It wasn’t so simple. Ryan arrived and replaced a disgraced icon who caused the team to crash along with him. Even in the throes of the dogfighting scandal that led to his departure, Michael Vick still had lots of fans in Atlanta. Not only was he good, he was a black quarterback in a black town, and in Ryan’s rookie season a segment of Vick fans continued to wear No. 7 jerseys to games, either out of stubborn and blind loyalty or protest or maybe both. So Ryan’s composure was tested on the day he first pulled on a Falcons jersey. It didn’t take long to win the affections of the Vick crowd and the rest of Atlanta, to the point where today, fans of all colors have embraced No. 2, now clearly the No. 1 local athlete with Chipper Jones retired. During that period of transition from the Vick era, Ryan remained calm and sure, a personality trait that continues to benefit him to this day. “He tends not to panic,” said Turner. “The whole team feeds off of his confidence. Rubs off on everybody. That’s a good leader, someone who doesn’t let anything get to him.” He was, in a sense, groomed to be a cool customer. His older brother, Mike, was the star athlete in the family, and Mike allowed Matt to tag along and join football and basketball games on one condition: He kept his mouth shut. That was the rule in place for Matt: Don’t complain or question. Just follow and observe. So Ryan learned early about the value of poise. The “Matty Ice” nickname began in high school and grew during a basketball game when he took an elbow to the face. Blood everywhere. He kept playing. Only after leading his team to a win did he get his 30 stitches. At Boston College, he played the second half of a season on a broken foot. Ryan had the choice of getting surgery, which would’ve ended his season, or dealing with the pain. Easy call for Ryan. He limped through and still carried BC. His command of the huddle and the Falcons locker room was also firm from the start. As a rookie he didn’t hesitate to tell veterans to shut up. Quickly, Ryan established himself in the league by showing an accurate if not particularly strong arm and by making the right decisions when it mattered most. All that did was raise hopes for the Falcons and ultimately led to disappointment when Ryan couldn’t win a playoff game, going 0-for-3 in his career before the Seattle win. It took plenty of composure to grit his teeth when constantly being asked about his playoff record while anxiously awaiting the next chance to get beyond that issue, once and for all. “I think everyone did a great job of not letting that distract us and just getting the job done and moving on,” Ryan said. There are probably other events in his life that caused Ryan to break into a cold sweat, like when he proposed to his wife or when the Falcons called his name on draft day or the most recent time when Samuel, the Falcons’ designated trash talker-prankster, pulled a fast one. As long as Ryan confines these human emotions outside the Georgia Dome, and remains an iceman inside, the Falcons are good. “Whether we’re up by 14, down by one, whether he just threw a pick or a touchdown, whatever it may be, it doesn’t matter,” said Bryant. “He’s the same all the time. He just moves on to the current situation. It’s pretty neat to watch.”
  6. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/falcons/2012/11/05/atlanta-falcons-8-0-undefeated-perfect-season/1684481/ Why perfect season by Falcons doesn't fly Jim Corbett and Mike Garafolo, USA TODAY SportsShare Comments Linebacker Stephen Nicholas celebrates after the Falcons improved to 8-0 by beating the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. (Photo: Josh D. Weiss, U.S. Presswire) Story Highlights They're 8-0 but have flaws and tough schedule Only two teams have finished regular season perfect Football Outsiders put odds of 16-0 record at 1.1% 6:59PM EST November 5. 2012 - ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons are the team with a perfect record but many imperfections. So it's no surprise that at 8-0, even they understand why they're not considered in the same company as the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went 17-0, or the 2007 New England Patriots, who went 18-1. "It's a good thing we're doubted," linebacker Mike Peterson told USA TODAY Sports. "It's like watching a movie. You always pull for the underdog that everybody's doubting. I don't mind playing that role." ALL APOLOGIES: Terry Bradshaw sorry for "chicken" comment MONDAY PLAYBOOK: Steelers may be ready for run The Falcons are the 20th team since the Super Bowl era in 1966 to go 8-0. Only the Dolphins and Patriots reached the playoffs undefeated, and eight of those 19 teams made it to 12-0, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. Falcons coach Mike Smith says he knows the team is flawed. For example, the Falcons rank a respectable sixth in the NFL in points for and against, but they are 19th in total yards against and 24th in rushing yards for and against. Against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, they faltered on three of four trips in the red zone, scoring on Michael Turner's 3-yard, fourth-quarter run but settling for two Matt Bryant field goals. "We just have to figure out ways to get better and finish and score touchdowns," Turner said. Among their remaining opponents, only the New York Giants at 6-3 have a winning record. Yet the NFC South division rival Saints are a dangerous team and up next on the schedule Sunday in New Orleans. "Any team we play from here on out, being undefeated, there's big target on our backs," tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "We're rolling right now. It's only eight games. "We're going to get better. That's our attitude. And when the playoffs come, we've got to be ready for it." In addition to looking at when teams have lost their first game, the following week-by-week capsules consider how dangerous each opponent is to the Falcons. Football Outsiders, a web site that specializes in advanced statistical analysis, has calculated the chances of the Falcons winning each week based on Weighted DVOA ratings, which calculates a team's success on down, quarter, rushing vs. receiving, location on field and so on. 9-0 Opponent: At New Orleans (2-5 ) Fear factor: 6 Why: Because while it's Joe Vitt instead of Sean Payton on the sideline, it's still the Saints and Drew Brees, who are 6-2 against the Falcons in the Mike Smith era. Football Outsiders says: 55.7% chance of staying undefeated How many have stumbled: One, 1977 Dallas Cowboys 10-0 Opponent: Arizona (4-5) Fear factor: 3 Why: This is the easiest game left on their schedule. The Cardinals are in free-fall mode right now. Football Outsiders says: 42.6% How many have stumbled: Three, 1972 Minnesota Vikings, 2003 Kansas City Chiefs, 2006 Indianapolis Colts 11-0 Opponent: at Tampa Bay (4-4) Fear factor: 8 Why: Bucs rookie Doug Martin is running wild and the Falcons, despite playing ahead for much of the season, are 24th in the NFL in run defense, having allowed 127.5 yards per game. Football Outsiders says: 19.4% How many have stumbled: Four, 1975 Vikings, 1990 49ers, 1990 Giants, 2008 Titans 12-0 Opponent: New Orleans (2-5 ) Fear factor: 6 Why: Getting the Saints at home hasn't been any better for the Falcons of late. They're 1-3 at the Georgia Dome against New Orleans under Smith. Football Outsiders says: 14.9% How many have stumbled: Three, 1969 Rams, 1984 Dolphins, 1991 Redskins. 13-0 Opponent: at Carolina (2-6) Fear factor: 7 Why: The Panthers nearly beat them in Week 4. Roddy White's 59-yard catch saved the day. Carolina would be a dangerous team at this point, with the role of spoiler and saving their jobs their only reasons to play. Football Outsiders says: 7% How many have stumbled: One, 1985 Bears. 14-0 Opponent: New York Giants (6-3) Fear factor: 9 Why: They're the defending champs and Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers could be indicative of their annual slide here. That's bad for the Falcons because mid-to-late December is when the Giants often get back together. Football Outsiders says: 3.5% How many have stumbled: Four, 1998 Broncos, 2005 Colts, 2009 Saints, 2011 Packers. 15-0 Opponent: at Detroit (4-4) Fear factor: 8 Why: The Lions look to be getting their act together after a rough start to the season and Calvin Johnson had seven catches for 129 yards on Sunday. This is a dangerous road trip against a contending team late in the year for a team sniffing perfection. Football Outsiders says: 1.6% How many have stumbled: One, 2009 Colts. 16-0 Opponent: Tampa Bay (4-4) Fear factor: 10 Why: Not because Greg Schiano's bunch will be the toughest opponent the Falcons will face but because we can't imagine this game even coming close to meaning anything if Atlanta is still perfect. They'll have a bye and home field locked up. Rest the starters? Run a vanilla offense to hide some things for the postseason? It's all not exactly conducive to winning a game against a potential playoff contender. Football Outsiders says: 1.1% chance of finishing undefeated How many have stumbled: None.
  7. http://content.usato...cons/2012/10/14 Oakland vs. Atlanta NFL Preview - Oakland (1-3) at Atlanta (5-0) (ET) (Sports Network) - When the 2012 season began, the Atlanta Falcons were trying to shake off the disappointment of yet another premature playoff disaster. Five weeks and five wins later, they're trying to keep themselves from getting too giddy over a better-than-hoped-for response to adversity. Coach Mike Smith's team can remain the NFC's lone unbeaten entity when they host the Oakland Raiders Sunday in the Georgia Dome. As a bonus, a victory will allow Smith to equal the franchise record for victories -- set at 49 by Dan Reeves -- in his 70th game at the helm. "It is a great start for us, it really is," quarterback Matt Ryan said."At this point, you can't really worry about what is going on in the history of our organization, but we have put ourselves right where we need to be five games into it." Through five games, Ryan has completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,507 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions, helping the Falcons stay with Houston as the only 5-0 teams in football. Balanced in its production, Atlanta is fifth in the league in scoring offense (29.6 points) and fifth in defense (18.6). Conversely, the Raiders emerge from a Week 5 bye after winning just once in four games and are 30th in scoring defense (31.2 points) and 25th in total defense (411.5 yards). In two road games, Oakland has been outscored, 72-19, in losses at Miami and Denver. "This team's got a whole different attitude about going out there and expecting to win," Atlanta receiver Roddy White said. But it hasn't been all run-ups and routs for the Falcons. They went to the final seconds before a game-winning field goal to defeat Carolina on Sept. 30 and rallied from a 17-14 deficit to top Washington last week. Veteran speedster White is on the NFL leaderboard with 31 catches, 481 yards and three TDs. Tight end Tony Gonzalez leads the league with 39 catches and has 388 yards and four touchdowns. The 36-year-old caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a score against the Redskins. In 23 career games against Oakland - most during his days with the Kansas City Chiefs -- he's got 110 receptions, 1,473 yards and eight TDs. "We're not going to stick our head in the sand," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "We're going to evaluate everything and see what things we need to improve on and where we can get better." A new Allen defense has included varied fronts, blitzes and coverage schemes, but Oakland foes have nonetheless connected on 71.5 percent of passes and converted 53.3 percent of third downs while the Raiders have compiled just three sacks and forced three turnovers. Injuries have forced personnel switches in the backfield, where safety Michael Huff has shifted to cornerback. "You're not going to win many games in this league if you can't win on third down," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. And it's not as if the offense has been a bright spot. The Raiders had only 237 yards in a 37-6 loss to Denver in Week 4. Oakland's been successful on only 27.5 percent of its own third downs and has gained just 3.4 yards per rushing attempt. In one win, Darren McFadden rushed for 113 yards with a TD. In three losses, he has 88 yards and has not scored. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey may finally return after a head injury sustained against Pittsburgh last month. In limited 2012 duty, he has nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Oakland leads the all-time series, 7-5, and has won three of the last five games, but Atlanta won both the last time the teams played -- in California, 24-0, in 2008 -- and the last time they met at the Georgia Dome, 35-10, in 2004. WHAT TO WATCH FOR The good news for Oakland strong safety Tyvon Branch is that it's the last time he's likely to face Atlanta's Gonzalez on an NFL field. The bad news is that Gonzalez, a slam-dunk Hall of Famer after he retires, has been more prodigious against the Raiders than any other team. A week after racking up the aforementioned 13 catches and 123 yards against the Redskins, Gonzalez heads into the matchup feeling sentimental. "(Oakland) was the first team I ever won against," he said. "I played them in my second game of the season. Monday Night Football. We won like on the last play of the game with Andre Rison. That was in 1997. Shoot, my longest catch ever came against them, 73 yards for a touchdown, out there in Oakland." Branch said the key to slowing the old man down is changing up the approach. "Diversifying your defense is the best defense," he said. "So I'm sure we're going to throw some different looks at him." In his fifth season as a pro, Branch has started three of four games this season and recorded 25 tackles. In 60 career games in the league, hes made 279 tackles, intercepted three passes, defended 15 and forced three fumbles. OVERALL ANALYSIS At some point, the Falcons will trip over a game most expect them to win. But given the struggles of the Oakland offense to stay on the field and the defense to keep foes off of it, that stumble doesn't figure to be here. Atlanta has enough weapons to switch from one to another if needed, and that'll be enough to get Smith his milestone win. Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Falcons 28, Raiders 17
  8. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/story/2012-01-03/nfl-replay-falcons-redemption/52360892/1 NFL Replay: Falcons seek further redemption By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY Updated 3h 5m ago CommentsTLANTA–Six days after having sand kicked in their face at the Superdome, when the Saints snatched the NFC West title and put Drew Brees back into the game to set the NFL's single-season passing record, it sure felt good for the Falcons to strike back.Against anybody. "The main thing we wanted to do was to flush what happened last week out of our system," tight end Tony Gonzalez said after Sunday's 45-24 blowout of the Bucs. "I think we were embarrassed after last week. We wanted to come back, make sure that we bounced back, especially going into the playoffs. You want some good momentum." MORE: Playoff questions by the dozen INTERACTIVE: Falcons climb in power rankings BLOG: Wild-card weekend TV schedule Done. The Falcons — who open the playoffs against the NFC East champion Giants in the wild-card round at the Meadowlands on Sunday — have all the momentum that bullying a downtrodden Bucs team can afford. Michael Turner rushed for 172 yards in less than a half. Matt Ryan, throwing just nine passes, connected twice with Julio Jones for touchdowns, and set a franchise single-season passing record. The defense collected four turnovers and two sacks. And before halftime, with their fifth seed secured when the Lions lost the shootout at Green Bay, the stars were all on the sideline resting. It was the bye week that the Falcons won't get this time, having to trek into the postseason as a wildcard. What might it mean a few days from now? "Confidence," says Turner, whose highlight-reel game included an 81-yard touchdown dash that was bounced off left tackle and proved that he still has a bit of speed left as he outran the last line of tired legs on the Bucs defense. "You want to have a swagger going into the playoffs, feeling like you can't be stopped," Turner said. "As long as we play smart and eliminate the mistakes we've been making, we'll be fine." Like Gonzalez, Turner saw the bully beatdown on Sunday as some sort of cleansing. Never mind that the Bucs, who fired coach Raheem Morris on Monday, finished the season with a 10-game losing streak. This was about the Falcons (10-6) getting their minds right. "We didn't back into the playoffs," Turner said. "We wanted to go in on a good note. We had to get that taste from last Monday out of our mouth and show that we are done with it." Of course, that redemption isn't totally complete. The Falcons might see the second-seeded Saints again, depending on how the next couple of weeks shake down. Which brings up an even greater mission for redemption. A year ago, the Falcons entered the playoffs as the NFC's No. 1 seed, a hard-earned honor for a 13-3 regular season. Then they squandered that position, getting blown out on their home turf in the playoff opener by the Packers — the sixth seed that went on to win the Super Bowl. Now back in the playoffs, the Falcons have another chance to make amends. "Hopefully," Gonzalez said Sunday, "we'll pick up where we left off today."
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