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A Tdwii Observation: Are The Falcons The Nfl's Version Of Timothy Bradley?

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One of the most dramatic images I’ve seen in sports in quite a long time was the motionless body of Manny Pacquiao after taking one of the most savage punches I’ve perhaps ever seen in any type of fight format. It wasn’t just the punch that I felt at a guttural level…but the fact that it was Pacquiao, a man who had come to be almost this larger than life figure in his sport, who was destroyed by it.

Months earlier, Pacquiao was ‘defeated’ by Timothy Bradley. Anyone who watched the fight never felt any type of dread for Pacquiao’s safety. He was never in any danger…he controlled the pace of the fight; the action. Bradley never really threatened Pacquiao. The punches he landed perhaps scored points on a scorecard. They certainly never seemed to phase Pacquiao, a much more skilled and powerful opponent. That somehow, the judges awarded the fight to Bradley almost seemed inconsequential.

The man who destroyed Pacquiao; Juan Manuel Marquez? His career record is 55-6-1.

Bradley? 29-0-0.

If you knew nothing about either fighter, how would you perceive them? Would you see the one with 6 losses and a draw as inferior to the undefeated fighter? Would that perception change if you included the amount of KO’s both fighters have (40 to 12)?

The fact is, despite an unblemished record, Bradley is seen as a fighter that exists at a tier below the truly elite fighters in boxing. If Marquez and Bradley were to fight, Bradley would be immediately be posted as at least a 2-1 underdog. This is not to say that Bradley would stand no shot at winning the fight – after all, Marquez himself was a 2-1 underdog on Saturday. But it does show that the perception of him is one that doesn’t feel him capable of being able to win at the elite level where Marquez exists and is perceived at. Marquez is far from infallible, prior to his ‘perfect punch’ it appeared that he would be upping the 6 in his record to a 7. And admittedly, 2/3rds of his 6 has come at the hands of Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, the pound-for-pound kings of the last decade.

There is no undefeated NFL team…the Falcons along with the Texans have the NFL’s best record. No one thinks either are the NFL’s best team. That honor at this moment goes to the NFL’s pound-for-pound king of the last decade; the New England Patriots. At 10-3, they are rounding into form. But they also own a loss to perhaps the worst team in the NFL at the moment – the Arizona Cardinals. But no one cares…and the reason for that is because of a game like they had on Monday night, where they took a team like the Houston Texans and essentially left them lying on the canvas motionless. If their record were 8-5 or 7-6 and they did that to the Texans – it would have the same effect. People would oooohhh and aaaaahh at what they just perpetrated against a franchise that has gained a significant level of respect.

While the analogy is not perfect, the Texans aren’t the NFL’s version of Pacquiao, the Falcons aren’t undefeated like Bradley…the overall point is that the Falcons success has increasingly been defined by the Win/Loss column. No doubt this is vitally important – one need look no further than New Orleans to understand this. But once this checkbox has been marked off – then what?

In boxing – resilience simply means you have a good chin. Against inferior opponents, that’s enough to pull out wins in a lot of cases because you can simply take more punishment than your opponents skills allow. But at the championship level? When knockout punches are flying all around the place?

The loss against Carolina meant nothing – as stated previously, the last 3 games really don’t mean much. They are tune-up fights. But the Falcons will walk into their title fight with not much more than a good chin and a record that states that they are qualified to be in the ring that night whenever it does come to pass. And no matter what the Falcons show the last 3 weeks of this season, they’ll need to show something that night they haven’t shown before.

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**** man! I think that is the best article you've ever written... which is REALLY saying something!!

My hope has been all season that EVERYONE associated with the Falcons team and organization is actually seething with an inquenchable burning commitment to winning in the Playoffs. I see what I hope are clues that our Coaches are setting the team up to spring some ambush tactics on our playoff opponent(s).

Bottom line tho is we won't know until the playoffs get here. If I don't see that elite fighter with the huge heart and competiveness show up in playoffs this season tho'... I will be hard pressed to fully support Smitty any further.

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