Few fans predicted 10 wins for this season (though this writer proudly reminds you that he did) with the schedule they had ahead of them. Yet, not only do they have 10 wins, they now also have won the NFC South with a legitimate shot at getting a first round bye with the 2nd seed if they beat the Saints next week. In a game that has proven to be a “trap” for past Falcons teams, this version went up to Carolina and beat their division rival by 17 points. Here are some takeaways from this impressive victory.
This offense is scary
By now you’ve all seen the numerous records that Matt Ryan and this offense has set. Thirteen different receivers with TDs in the same season. Ten receivers with at least 2 TDs each. Most consecutive 200 yard passing games in a row. One of the highest scoring offenses in the NFL since the merger.
Even against the absolute best defenses in the league, this offense has found ways to continue scoring. Averaging over 30 points per game is ridiculous, yet the Falcons have done just that. They attack opposing defenses at their weakest spots and impose their will regardless of the opponent.
If you shutdown Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman may go off. Take down both of these guys and Tevin Coleman burns you alive. Manage to shutdown all three, and someone like Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hardy or Aldrick Robinson steps up.
The ability to go deep into your roster is a huge factor for success and is what makes defending this team an absolute nightmare. As the Falcons go into the playoffs, opposing defensive coordinators will be hard-pressed to figure out how to stop this team.
Defensive secondary is maturing quickly
Losing Desmond Trufant was a huge blow to this defense, yet this team has found a way to survive the loss. It helps going against sub-par passing teams, but the depth at CB deserves some credit as well. Against the Panthers, guys like Jalen Collins, Deji Olatoye, C.J. Goodwin and Brian Poole stepped up in a big way. Collins and Poole both came down with big interceptions while all of these guys were rarely out of position. Cam Newton had a very poor game, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that these guys played very well regardless. Even on the Benjamin TD catch, Collins was in great position.
If this team is going to have success in the playoffs, they need the defense to play well against better offensive teams. If this defensive secondary can continue to play like they did against the Panthers, that will go a long way towards getting past just one game in the post-season.
Getting better at the right time
More than anything, the Falcons are getting better as the season has progressed. They’ve been utterly dominant the last couple of games and even when they didn’t play their best game against Carolina, they still managed to score 30+ points and win by over two scores. Playing poor offenses has also helped this young defense build its confidence, which could be a factor as the playoffs draw near. Many teams can start hot, but it’s always the teams that finish strong that make noise in the playoffs. I’m not going to predict a Super Bowl run, but the Falcons are getting hot at the right time.
What are your takeaways from the victory over the Carolina kittens?