It is a common concern that teams with extra rest can come out flat and uninspired in a big game, particularly when the opponent just came off of an emotional win. In our case, it is certainly cause for concern. The Packers are on fire, particularly thanks to Aaron Rodgers and the emergence of James Starks.
Does that concern you? Well, it shouldn't. If it does bother you, however, do not be ashamed. This is the playoffs and truthfully, this may be the first time in a long time that we have a legitimate chance of heading to the Super Bowl.
Today, I'm going to ease your fears about the game. Follow me after the jump and consider your fears alleviated.I'm intervening on this Wednesday afternoon to provide you with some articles that have eased my pain concerning the game on Saturday. I fully believe Smitty will have the Birds ready to play, but it's always nice to have the reassurance.
Consider this a mini-Saturday Six Pack....but on Wednesday.
First, from Ray Glier over at FanHouse, the Falcons are making sure they know the new OT rules. At first, I thought, "Why is this a big deal?" and "Why are they taking the time to study these rules and situations?"
The new rules are pretty straightforward, in my opinion. Opening drive TD, you win. Opening drive FG, opponent gets ball. If opponent loses ball on that second drive, they lose. The onside kick rule to that is hurr hurr, if you ask me.
However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Obviously, upon reading what I just wrote, you'd want to slap me in the head because it's important that the players know the OT scenarios. However, I would expect them to know the basics because playing football is their job.
That being said, I realized that the study of OT rules would also keep the players fresh mentally and most importantly, keep them from doing something that would get them in trouble. It's hard to stay committed to the usual routine when you have a week off.
Second, also from Glier, the Falcons are emphasizing run defense now that James Starks has shown up. This is good practice for several reasons. One, it's telegraphing that we're worried about their running game, but I don't think we are actually that concerned about it. We have been known to give up the big run, but I do expect us to lock their run game down in usual fashion. I think that's a semi-ploy to get people thinking we're overly worried about Starks.
That being said, Starks could have a big game. We won't know until we find out, but I didn't see anything impressive from him against the Eagles. Granted, I didn't watch the whole game (Left about halfway through the 3rd) but even still, I'm not too worried.
Lastly, this little gem from Jason Cole over at Yahoo! Sports. This is a great read and gives detail into just how great Smitty is for us. I had no idea at some of the things he did, such as stand way behind the line of scrimmage. I think it gives us a look at a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes and how Smitty thinks.
While there's no way to guarantee victory, I think those three articles should help ease your worries going into this weekend, especially the Yahoo one. Not only is Smitty a very smart coach, he also makes smart decisions in the clutch. He has the best winning percentage in close games among all playoff coaches. Our counterpart this weekend, Mike McCarthy, is not nearly as swift.
I gotta say, if this game comes down to the wire, I like our chances. Do you?