Focus Remains on Next Opponent
Saturday could not have gone better for the Falcons. A win in Carolina, coupled with losses by Tampa Bay, brought Atlanta its sixth division title. What's more, Arizona's victory over Seattle propelled the Falcons into the No. 2 seed in the conference.
Indeed, head coach Dan Quinn and his team have a lot to look forward to. But with a chance to earn a first-round bye – a win over New Orleans would lock that up – Atlanta is focused on the immediate task at hand.
"When you have a process you trust and use to get ready, you don't allow yourself to go so far down the line that you get anxious about who you're going to playing two or three weeks," Quinn said. "You put it all into this week and try to empty the bucket then go put it back in again."
Defense Keeps Improving
Atlanta's defense has taken demonstrable strides forward since the bye week, allowing 19 or fewer points in four of five contests during that span. Perhaps the most impressive part of that growth is the fact that it's happened in spite of prominent injuries. Desmond Trufant (shoulder) has been out since Nov. 3; Adrian Clayborn (knee) missed a month of action; and De'Vondre Campbell (concussion), who quickly matured into a starting linebacker, had to sit out the Christmas Eve matchup in Charlotte.
But Atlanta's depth players have stepped up in a big way. Jalen Collins and Robert Alford have provided stability at cornerback. Ra'Shede Hageman, Brooks Reed and Courtney Upshaw, among others, have aided the pass rush. And Paul Worrilow stepped into Campbell's spot at WLB and performed admirably.
"Since the bye, the defense for sure has been improving," Quinn said. "I felt that from the ball-hawking. We've had numerous games where we've gotten some takeaways. That part for sure has increased. Our points allowed has gone down since that time, as well, so those two things allow you to play better. And it still comes down to our fundamentals and playing with speed and playing with effort. That part, I've seen the arrow going up. And it wasn't just for one week, but it's been for a month now that that's been the case."
Home-Field Advantage is 'Significant'
Although the Falcons don't know when they'll play their first postseason game or who they'll battle, they do know they'll have home-field advantage for at least one round. This ensures their last game at the Georgia Dome will be one of the biggest in the stadium's history.
"Having an opportunity to play at home, it's significant for sure," Quinn said. "It's so much fun when you get a playoff game at home in front of your own crowd, the energy that kind of comes along with that. It's a byproduct of winning your division where you're guaranteed one of those, and then if you have a chance to go past that where better things can happen, then you go from there. But it's a significant thing and a really cool experience."