Jan 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith chats with quarterback Matt Ryan (2) prior to facing the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
1) Playoff Experience
The Atlanta Falcons have had playoff experience, mostly on the dark side, but last weeks victory over Seattle has shined a hopeful light that all has changed and with the pressure lifted from past playoff futility
the Smith / Ryan era can now go on to a more palatable legacy, another step via Coach Smiths steady ’One game at a time ’ game plan. I’ve little doubt the Falcons locker room emit’s the jubilation of Bryants 49 yard field goal with seconds left in last weeks game than all the foul taste losses of the past few years.
That is all the experience they need for preparation to the showdown with San Francisco.
They have more experience than this San Francisco team, especially at quarterback, and this group of Falcons have shown the focus to keep growing. San Francisco was in the NFC championship game last year
and their experience was a loss at Candlestick.
2) Coaching Staff
Coach Smith could match many a coach with his first five years in the NFL, with five winning seasons and two division titles, bringing the birds to the playoffs with familiarity that the city has never seen, with two previous super bowl champions keeping Falcon success during that span from even greater heights.
He has steadied the crippled ship Vick and Petrino left, a sad franchise now winning annually when never having back to back seasons in the forty six year history. Jim Harbaugh has had success, but has only half of Smittys experience as a NFL head coach. The last meeting was a 2010 Atlanta victory, noting Harbaugh , Nolan and Dirk had not arrived at their jobs back then, at the dome with a score of 16-14 after San Francisco had gone up 14 – 0. ( Never give up Birds).
San Francisco has a tough, big defense coming in from the west coast. (Familiar ?) In 2012 they were third in yards allowed while Atlanta was 24th. In fact, the forty-niners defense would win over Atlanta
every defensive category, but there is that one stat that Atlanta keeps close to the best ‘D’ units, and that’s
Points allowed. The San Francisco defense allowed 17.1 points per game, with Atlanta very close with having allowed 18.7 points a game. I think the Dome can equal that margin out and when it comes to close games, the kicking game usually plays a big part and Atlanta edges Frisco with Bosher and also with the field goal weapon Bryant. It may not be a defensive low scoring game, but Atlanta has the edge in the kicking game.
Every team has injuries, and Depth is required to make a good team a playoff team.
Atlanta lost pro bowl CB Grimes right from the opening gate. They had time missed by stars Weatherspoon,
Abraham and Moore among others. Thanks to second string super stars McClain, Walker, Hope, Matthews, Snelling, and solid back ups elsewhere the Falcons emerged with the NFC number one seed and that is why they play in the dome this Sunday. You can’t accomplish that in the NFL without valuable depth.
5) Road / Home
San Francisco has been referred to as the road Warriors because they have played at some hostile environments. They finished with a 5 – 3 road record in 2012, while Atlanta was 6 – 2 on the road. But the coming game is at the Dome, where Ryan and crew play very solid football and are 7 – 1 with last weeks playoff win also added. A Hostile environment ? – The sharks down the street at the Georgia Aquarium can smell playoff blood like the loud, hungry crowd that roost in the Falcons nest. Frisco did not enjoy the road trip to Seattle before Christmas, a place similar in crowd involvement to the Georgia dome where measured
Decibel levels were at least 113.
Anyone with a brain, a heart and some courage knows, “There is no place like Home”.
Atlanta 27 – San Francisco 20. That would be a Super Win.