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Finish Strong Falcons!


Maxman
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How the Falcons and Falcon fans respond to tonight's game may well be MORE important than the game itself. In fact, it may be the "tipping point" in the history of this franchise!!!

It's been several years since the NFL would schedule the Falcons in prime time and put us on SNF and MNF as they have this year. In the last three weeks alone, the Falcons have been on prime time on SNF vs Chicago and MNF against an undefeated division rival with a Cowboy broadcast last week in between that went to most of the country and was one of the highest rated regular season games ever.

And now on MNF, this is a bad match-up for us at a bad time. We've had the toughest schedule in the league so far. We beat two division winners last year (Miami and Carolina) who, after a slow start are once again proving they are pretty good teams and getting back in the hunt. We beat a good Chicago team in an emotional rematch after they had a week off. We've had some tough road games at New England, San Francisco (which has proven to be much better under Singletary), Dallas (another team with a bye week off before us) and now New Orleans on MNF. We are beat up. And you can bet that even the players that are healthy are hurting.

New Orleans in the SuperDome is likely to be a very difficult match-up for us and could end up looking a lot like last week's game, or maybe even a little worse. Brees may torch our young secondary which means Matt will be having to drop deep and frequently to throw and catch-up at a place where the fans are going to be LOUD. This may be a tough game for our tackles, o-line and Matt. We are thin at running back and fullback. We miss Norwood's ability to run outside and Ovie's ability for both run blocking and pass protection (especially against the blitz). The tough schedule and the way our guys have battled has taken it toll in injuries and it's especially bad for this game at this time!

Please understand that I'm not making excuses but I am trying to keep some perspective, that, regardless of what happens tonight, if the Falcons respond well and finish strong they can put themselves in a position to (1) have a winning season and end the "jinx" forever, (2) make the playoffs for the second year in a row, (3) be the team that is peaking and healthy at the end of the season, and (4) move into the level of elite teams that will be "in the hunt" for a division, conference and league championship every year.

Even if the worse does happen and we lose tonight, the Falcons will be 4-3 after the toughest seven game schedule in the NFL. They return to the Dome to play the Redskins (who are another team with a bye week off to prepare for us) but we should win that one. That makes us 5-3 after a very tough first half of the season. The second half of the season, if we get healthy will be a lot better than the first. We then go to Carolina who is always tough at home but still beatable (especially with QB issues now). We then go to NY for the Giants (who also have another bye week to prepare for us~Note:the Falcons are the only team in history to play four teams with bye weeks). The Giants will be tough but they are suddenly beatable. We then have Tampa Bay twice, the Jets in NYC and Philly, Buffalo and the Saints at home. And we can beat Philly, Buffalo and, yes, even the Saints at home!

I hope I am wrong and our boys show up, make some plays, take the crowd out of it and beat the Saints in the SuperDome. But after all the unexpected success of last year and the higher expectations for this year, I hope our players, coaches, ownership and fans can stay positive and stay focused on finishing strong and the "process" ( as Coach Smith might put it) of building an elite team and organiziation that will compete for a championship EVERY year.

How we respond to this game is more important than the game itself!

I am still hopeful for tonight but, regardless of the result, I am excited to see how we respond!

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