By Danny Cox
The Atlanta Falcons have locked up the number one seed and home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs, and hope it all adds up to an appearance and eventual Super Bowl victory. One thing though, this 2012 Falcons’ team isn’t much on “hoping.” They are a team that plan on playing to win and being a different team that they know will go all the way.
2008, 2010, and 2011 were the last three playoff appearances for the Falcons, and all ended up being complete busts.
- 2008 – Lost 30-24 to the Arizona Cardinals
- 2010 – Lost 48-21 to the Green Bay Packers
- 2011 – Lost 24-2 to the New York Giants
Before that, it was a NFC title game blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004 and a divisional blowout loss in 2002 to those same Eagles. 1998 was the year that the Falcons got to the Super Bowl, – a loss to the Denver Broncos – but it was the last time that they ever truly impressed all the way throughout the postseason.
This year’s team though is not going to dwell on the problems on the past, and they’re going to use their poor postseason history to push them forward. The most recent playoff troubles though, wide receiver Roddy White says that this year’s team is “different.”
“This is a very different team from last year, two years ago, three years ago,” Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said. “Our players are much more mature. I think we are ready to go. We feel like we’ve got a lot to prove in the playoffs because we haven’t won a game and we want to win one so bad.
“I don’t think anybody is pressing. We just want to go win.”
As of right now, the Falcons are prepared to head to New Orleans for the Super Bowl, and they’ve got the easiest route possible. At least, they’ve done all they could to make it the easiest route for themselves. Having the first-round bye and home-field advantage makes it two wins at home over lower-seeded teams and then a trip to the Superdome.
Seems easy, doesn’t it? Sounds simple too, but the NFL can be a fickle and unruly beast. Still, the Falcons believe that they’ve got all the pieces in place with players, coaching, fans, and momentum.
“I like our chances way better at home with the dome rocking and how comfortable we are at home and how we’ve played (there),” Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said. “But we still have to go out there and play. (The top seed) doesn’t mean we’ve arrived; it doesn’t guarantee anything.”
Atlanta coach Mike Smith says that it really is that simple, and that this team is going to “play the game to win.” Smith has his team ready to win, but he wants to make sure that injuries are healed and the players have enough rest. Once the regular season ends, the players will have two weeks before their first playoff game thanks to the first-round bye.
This week, the falcons won’t have to report until Wednesday to prepare for the season finale in the Georgia Dome against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Everything is in place and no matter what happens in this last regular season game; the Falcons have their postseason position set in place. Smith still wants his team to win though.
Winning or losing the regular season finale against the Bucs won’t really matter though. It will be three week until the next game that really counts is upon them. At that point, it is win and move on to the NFC Conference Championship game or lose and have yet another playoff disappointment.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.