Like many teams, the Falcons play better at home. The results inside the Georgia Dome are proven. Under coach Smith, 32-6. Matt Ryan seeks his 11th straight home win on Sunday against the Giants.
The Falcons home fans make a difference inside the dome and the false starts and penalties imposed on visiting teams proves this. The fans know when to stand and cheer (when the defense is on the field) and know when to get quiet and let the Falcons do their work (that's when they're on offense). The players feed off the energy of the fans and the last time inside the Dome, Week 13's Thursday night game against the Saints, was an alive atmosphere.
The Falcons expect a similar type of vibe inside the Georgia Dome on Sunday and with playoff implications riding on the game, it'll be a game filled with intensity and, yes, a playoff atmosphere.
"I think it's going to be very similar to the games that we've had earlier in the season," Smith said on Thursday. "I think they were very electric. I don't know if you want to say 'playoff' (atmosphere) but it's a game that definitely has playoff consequences for both football teams. It should be loud, electric and we're looking forward to getting back out on the field. Anytime you don't have the result on the field the previous week, the next week can't get here quick enough."
While the players may not put too much emphasis on the return of the team that ended their season last year, the fans surely would like to see a bit of revenge exacted. The players understand everything that comes with the game, including the fan's perspective.
They understand the reasons why this particular win would be important to the fan base and why the fans will be wild on Sunday afternoon, but they are only approaching the game as one to win to get a step closer to where they want to be.
"You've got to take it with a grain of salt," safety Thomas DeCoud said. "You can't get too far ahead of yourself and you can't let it fall to the side as well. You've got to acknowledge it but don't get too heavy on it."