Home Field Advantage Within Reach
Following Sunday's victory over the Giants, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves back on track and poised to take the top seed in the NFC for the second time in three years. With a win on Saturday, that goal can be achieved.
Beating the Lions this week not only means improving to a 13-2 record; it also means no team in the NFC can mathematically leapfrog the Falcons in the standings, giving them a lock on the No. 1 spot in the conference and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
"Well, that's what everybody's trying to do," Smith said on Tuesday on clinching home field advantage. "I really believe that and that's the thing that's in reach. We've got to go out and play effectively this week and our goal is to win every game we play and figure out what happens after that. If we win this week, I think it'll clear some things up."
Lions Focused on Atlanta, Not Record
While the Lions have had a disappointing season and possess a 4-10 record, the Falcons cannot afford to take any opponent lightly—not after the drubbing they took in Carolina. Detroit has a few dangerous weapons in its arsenal, most notably Georgia Tech alumnus Calvin Johnson and former UGA star Matt Stafford.
"We still have a lot of confidence in what we do and where we're going to go," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "We need to do a better job, we haven't done a good enough job this year."
With Stafford at the helm and Johnson having another Pro Bowl quality season, Detroit is currently first in the NFL in passing yards per game with 302.1. The Lions' demise, for the most part, has been on the defensive side of the ball: they're surrendering the fifth most points and yards against per game in the league right now, allowing 27.1 and 380, respectively.
DeCoud, Moore Form Elite Safety Duo
Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore—both drafted by Atlanta—have evolved into one of the league's most dynamic safety pair and could be looking at Pro Bowl nominations.
"It's been a blessing to sit back and watch those young guys mature into what I think are two of the best safeties in the league," Hope said. "I've had the opportunity to form two of the best safety tandems in the league myself. To see those two guys come in and play at the level they've played all season has been good."
DeCoud is leading the team right now with six interceptions; Moore ranks second on the club with 64 tackles.
Roddy White isn't Afraid Anymore
One of the biggest changes we've seen in this year's version of the Falcons has been the rise in confidence that just oozes out of this team on and off the field. For me, this is one of the biggest reasons to believe Atlanta is ready to take the next step and contend for the Lombardi Trophy.
"I could say, two, three years ago, that was the attitude, trying to escape guys and not do this and say, 'I hope we don't get these guys,'" Roddy White said. "We'd be saying, 'Oh, these guys can do this, they're a good football team.' We can't say we don't want to play them. We can't say that.
"This year, it's a totally different team."
Not that this should be a surprise, but the Falcons are poised to draft towards the back end of every round in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Falcons Mostly Healthy
Atlanta has been lucky in terms of health this season, and that will continue for at least another week (knock on wood).
William Moore missed practice on Tuesday with that nagging hamstring injury of his, but that appears to be the only ailment of note on the roster. His status for Sunday remains uncertain, though it may be wise to let him rest some more if he doesn't feel 100 percent.