The 12-2 Falcons come in to week 16 of the NFL Season having already clinched a playoff berth and look to lock up the number one seed in the NFL Playoffs with a Monday Night win against the Saints in Atlanta. But before the game has even started, this game is lost for the Falcons in the eyes of the media. ESPN, the main culprit has done nothing but put down the success of the Falcons this year.
After clinching a playoff berth last Sunday, ESPN never ran any highlights of their victory over Seattle or mentioned that they had clinched a playoff berth during their Monday Night Football halftime show. But it’s not like they were pressed for time. They still managed to show highlights of the Bucs-Lions, Bills-Dolphins, and Browns-Bengals games.
Trent Dilfer has recently said that the Saints can beat the Falcons on Monday night, but they can also beat them should there be a rematch in the playoffs. He even went as far as saying that this Falcons team reminded him of the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs. A team that went 13-3 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. He is just one of the many so-called experts that is yet to be a believer of the Falcons.
Now can the Falcons be beaten? Of course they can, but so can every other team in the NFL. Saying that a team can lose a game could be said about every single game in the history of the NFL. But the lack of respect and the lack of credit that the media outlets give the Falcons is nothing other than embarrassing. Coming into the Monday Night football game, regardless of the outcome of the game, the media will continue to doubt the Falcons and they will continue to not give them credit. I can already hear the analysis after the game.
First, lets say the Falcons lose, the Saints come into the Georgia Dome and they cool down (or warm up) Matty Ice and the Atlanta Falcons. Suddenly the analysts and the media will say things about how this Falcons team isn’t good. They will mention that they can now be beaten at home. Well guess what, that is already true. But it is something that they simply don’t do. The media will doubt the leadership of Mike Smith and Matt Ryan. Suddenly, should the Falcons meet the Saints in the postseason, the Saints will be favored. All of the work that the Falcons have done to get to a 12-2 start will go down the drain.
But how does one regular season game take away from an entire season as a whole. Even if the Falcons lose, are they suddenly an overrated team? But wait, it’s not like the media has given the Falcons any credit to begin with so why does it matter. They have jumped on every single bandwagon out there in regards to the NFC.
According to them, the Bears, Eagles, Saints, and even Giants or Packers will all be teams that are better than the Falcons. But correct me if I am wrong, but the Bears lost to the 5-9 Redskins and 6-8 Seahawks at home. The Giants lost to the 5-9 Cowboys and 6-8 Titans at home. The Eagles lost to the 5-9 Redskins and 6-8 Titans. The Saints lost to the 5-9 Browns and the 4-10 Cardinals.
Atlanta doesn’t have a bad loss, or a loss at home. The Falcons two losses have been to the 10-4 AFC North leading Pittsburgh Steelers and the 10-4 NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles. Both of those games being on the road. Throughout the season the pundits have said that the Falcons can’t beat people on the road, but they are 6-2.
Only the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers have better records on the road than the Falcons at 6-1. According to the media the Falcons can’t win on the road, but they have won their last four road games, and haven’t lost a game since October 17th, something that no other team can say, not even the New England Patriots.
The reason why the Falcons aren’t popular is because they aren’t a sexy team. The Falcons are a dominant team. They go out every single Sunday and do what they do more consistently than every other team in the NFL. Plain and Simple. They don’t make you go wow, but they go out and do something more important, and that is they win.
But let’s move this to another issue, what if the Falcons actually do beat the Saints. The Super Bowl defending Champs come into the Georgia Dome and they fall short. Matty Ice, Michael Turner, and Roddy White dominate the game and the Falcons improve to 13-2 and lock up the number one seed in the NFC. Even if this happens, it will still be hard for the media to give credit to the Falcons.
I can already hear Trent Dilfer and the entourage at ESPN talking after the game now. I will be lucky and I will actually attend the game. So I won’t have to hear them talk about how the Falcons aren’t a good team and that they can be beaten. I also will not be able to hear their commentary after a Falcons victory. Now, I hope that I am wrong in this prediction, but given what has happened so far in the season, it is hard to think otherwise.
They will say that even with the Falcons win they are still a team that can be beaten at home. Well, of course they can, and guess what, so can every other team in the NFL. But there comes a point where you have to give a team their credit. The fact that the Falcons haven’t achieved this is comical at this point.
Even if the Falcons win, ESPN will still not give the Falcons their due. They will say that the Falcons and Saints will meet again in the playoffs and there is no way the Falcons will beat the Saints a third time. They will say that it isn’t possible to beat a team for a third time. If only they did some research, since the AFL-NFL merger teams in this situation hold a record of 13-7.
Now, let me make this clear. I think the Falcons can be beaten. There are certainly NFC teams that could beat this Falcons team. But the Falcons have shown that this is a very difficult task to complete because of what they do and how well they do it. Correct me if I am wrong, but can’t every team in the NFL be beaten. But saying that teams can be beaten and to not give any credit to a 12-2 team is not only uneducated, but also simply embarrassing.
If Tom Brady or Peyton Manning have made the last-minute drives like Matt Ryan has made this year, could you imagine the coverage and press they would get. I know that they have shown themselves to be the best QB’s in the NFL, but just because Matty Ice is in his third season, doesn’t mean that you cant give him credit.What Matt Ryan has done this year in nothing other than incredible. His constant ability to have ice in his veins and to not get fazed by pressure is something that can’t be overlooked.
Regardless of what happens the rest of the season for the Falcons, nothing should take away from what the Falcons have accomplished this year. This will hold true even if they do lose in the first round of the playoffs. They have taken this team to a level that has never been achieved in the history of the franchise. They had the run back in 1998 to the Super Bowl, but until last year the Falcons have never had back-to-back winning seasons.
The Falcons have now finished with a winning record in the last three seasons, holding a record of 32-14, only the Patriots at 33-13 and Colts at 34-12 have a better record. This is unchartered water for this Falcons franchise. Regardless of what ESPN says or doesn’t say, this should be something that Falcons fans should be proud of.
Now, for my last point, and for some this might seem hypocritical, but it’s the honest truth. What ESPN says or does makes absolutely no impact on what the Falcons go out and do every Sunday. If you don’t believe it, the Falcons 12-2 record speaks for itself. The media might mention it, but the Falcons truly don’t care, and what they say doesn’t matter. I may be repeating myself, but I just feel like if I don’t say it, no one will. I am simply trying to make a statement that no one else will. Just look at the lack of coverage the Falcons have gotten this season if you want any proof of this.
It’s an obvious fact that games in the NFL aren’t won in the media. If you don’t believe me ask the Cowboys, Bengals, and Vikings. Ask them how it feels to be sitting at home during January. ESPN and the Media can continue to ignore the Falcons, but the Falcons will do something that is more important, and that is win, and they will continue to do that on their journey to Super Bowl 45 in Dallas.