With the week coming to an end, the Falcons are set to make their final preparations for Sunday, when they will look to rebound from their first loss of the season and take on the Arizona Cardinals. It's been a busy couple of days at Flowery Branch, so let's dive right into today's headlines.
Falcons Must Learn From First Loss
While the Falcons have faced issues in several facets of the game throughout the 2012 season, the loss to the Saints last Sunday should serve as a big wake-up call for the team to patch things up.
The running game is non-existent right now. Part of it is because the passing game is so dangerous. When you have a quarterback like Matt Ryan and targets like Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, it’s tempting to just line up and pass all day long. We found out Sunday, however, how an offense that is too one-dimensional can be an issue. When a defense knows what’s coming, the defense has a better chance to make something bad happen.
Falcons Downplay Saints' Claim of Lofton Incident
Several of Atlanta's players got into a bit of a pre-game tussle last week with former Falcon Curtis Lofton; whether or not the likes of Jonathan Babineax and Sean Weatherspoon had malicious intentions is not fully known, though Mike Smith chose not to take any action following the confrontation.
“We (are) all friends with Curtis and, you know, guys messing around and I’m sure he was doing the same thing, too,” Babineaux told FOXSportsSouth.com. “It’s all about competing and having fun and it’s just friends out there competing against one another. You know how that is.”
Can the Falcons Make the Super Bowl?
Since losing their first game of the season, the Falcons have taken their fair share of criticism from fans and pundits alike. Pat Yasinksas, however, still believes Atlanta is Super Bowl-bound, and that they are anything but the "same old Falcons."
Cardinals Aiming to Revive Season
Arizona's playoff chances may hinge on whether or not they beat Atlanta on Sunday. With a 4-5 record and a five-game losing streak, it's hard to imagine the Cardinals coming back from a 4-6 record–especially when their quarterback situation is taken into account.
“The first thing we can do is look in the mirror,” linebacker Sam Acho said. “Coach can look at us and say, ‘You need to do this better; you need to do that better.’ The first thing we can as players is look in the mirror and figure out what we can do to win games. Ultimately it’s not how many sacks you get or how many interceptions or touchdowns you throw, it’s about winning games.”
Arizona, Atlanta Have Taken Different Paths Since Playoff Bout
Ever since the Cardinals defeated the Falcons in the first round of the 2008 playoffs, the two franchises have gone in very different directions. Atlanta has continued its winning ways, and will finish this season with a winning record for the fifth straight year. On the other hand, Arizona has had two down seasons in a row after making the playoffs in '08 and '09—going all the way to the Super Bowl in '08.
The Cardinals parlayed their victory (over Atlanta) into a surprise run to the Super Bowl that season and another division title next year. The Falcons saw their record drop to 9-7 the following year, which resulted in them missing the playoffs.
That's as bad as it would get.
Since the Wild Card Round matchup, the Falcons have gone 40-17 in the regular season. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are 27-30. With an 8-1 mark this season, Atlanta is a bona-fide Super Bowl contender. At 4-5 the Cardinals are, well, reeling.