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A Look Down The Stretch


The Falcons clinched the NFC South on Sunday and are assured a spot in the playoffs. Just how many home games they'll have the opportunity to play in the 2012 playoffs remains to be seen, but a look ahead at the final four games of the regular season is encouraging for their chances at a home-ride through the NFL's second season.

The final four teams Atlanta will play are the Panthers, Giants, Lions and Bucs. Of those four, only the Giants and Bucs have winning records at 7-4 and 6-5. The Panthers currently are 3-9 and Detroit is 4-8. The combined record of those four teams is 20-26.

The Falcons under head coach Mike Smith have faced each of those teams at least once in the regular season. Smith and the Falcons have a combined 16-5 regular season record against their final four opponents in the regular season dating back to 2008. Against their two NFC South opponents, Carolina and Tampa, they have a 7-2 record.

Against the Lions, the Falcons are 2-0 and their one losing record against their final four comes at the hands of the Giants. Against New York in the regular season they're 0-1 and the Giants also defeated the Falcons last season in the playoffs.

Winning each of the final four games will give the Falcons the best single-season record in franchise history, besting the 1998 team's 14-2 record. It will also assure them of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Atlanta's second division title under Smith is the fifth division title in franchise history and they have now reached the playoffs in four of the last five seasons and in three straight seasons, a first in club history. Their current 11-1 record marks the third straight season with 10 wins or more

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