November 19, 2017

Falcons on the Rise

If you have been a fan of the Atlanta Falcons for any sustained length of time, then you have become accustomed to disappointment and losing.

So much talent has come through this major southern town over the years with the likes of Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, Jesse Tuggle, Steve Bartkowski, William Andrews, Jeff Van Note and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson that it is hard to believe the Atlanta Falcons have exactly ZERO, NFL Championships.

Unfortunately, that is where this organization currently stands. In 2008 the Falcons front office went out and hired little known Mike Smith (Defensive Coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars). Who? Mike Smith! Just who the heck is this cat? Personally, I couldn’t believe the decision.

I felt they abruptly haphazardly chose a coach without going through a thorough hiring process. As a fan, I wanted a big name coach to come to Atlanta and resurrect a program left in shambles from the Jim Mora debacle.

That was 3 ½ years ago and I’ll be the first to admit, “Boy was I wrong about Mike Smith.” In 2008, he won the AP Coach of the Year award as the Falcons posted an 11-5 record.

In 2009, the Birds went 9-7 and last year they dominated the league in almost every fashion en route to a 13-3 record. All added up, that equates to an overall 33-15 record and three consecutive years of winning football in a town that has known little success on the grid iron.

You want “big name” players. The Falcons have them: Matt Ryan, John Abraham, Michael Turner, Curtis Lofton, Roddy White, Dunta Robinson and Julio Jones; names heard repetitively during the television or radio broadcast. The winning is also continuing.

This year the Falcons currently own a 6-4 record, not where most expected the Birds to be a mid-season but respectable none-the-less. One of the more notable losses is the heart-breaker to New Orleans in overtime.

Much can be said about the intensity of divisional play but when you face the same opponent two or three times in a year (including playoffs), they are bound to win a game here and there.

The irony of it all is that the road team usually wins the grudge matches between the Falcons and Saints which is music to my ears as the Birds travel to the Bayou the day after Christmas to face the “Who Dat’ers” once again.

The upcoming Monday Night Football game for December 26th will be beyond the shadow of a doubt an extremely pivotal contest for both of these organizations. A Saint win would surely lock up a division title while a Falcon loss could cost them a wild-card spot in the playoffs. Yes, I said playoffs.

Fortunately for the Falcons, their upcoming schedule is a favorable one with three of the next four opponents posting losing records.

Many football fans gawked earlier this year when New Orleans hung 62 on the lowly Colts in a 62-7 victory but few people know that in the season opener of 1973 the Falcons demolished the Saints by the same score of 62-7 (www.atlantafalcons.com).

So the question remains, “Do the Falcons have what it takes to hand its fans a wonderful Christmas present?” Yes, a “prime time” victory in December to ….let’s say force a tie for the division lead with the Saints. My prediction: Falcons 31, Saints 27.

Photo by WorldCorrespondents.com

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