The Falcons appear to be playing their best football at the right time.
Matt Ryan having a 100-plus passer rating is nothing new. He's now done it an incredible 11 times this season.
It's their defense that should be giving Falcons fans reason to believe this team may be special.
The Falcons are going to be a tough team to stop if opponents can't keep up with the #1 scoring offense in the NFL. And since the bye week, Atlanta's defense is giving up just 18.2 points per game. And that includes the nine points the Falcons offense surrendered against the Chiefs.
Saturday was a punctuation to that trend. The Falcons defense was in control for most of the game, holding the Panthers to just six points until the final play of the third quarter.
That includes a first half in which they held the Panthers to just 105 yards to go with two first half interceptions that shaped the look of the game. Atlanta held the NFL's reigning MVP and the Carolina offense to just 105 total yards in the first half.
That allowed the Falcons to build a 20-3 halftime lead.
By the time Carolina got into the end zone for the first time, on a Cam Newton strike to Kelvin Benjamin to close out the third quarter, the Panthers had 23 points on the board.
And symbolic of his MVP-type season, Matt Ryan rendered Carolina's threat short term. With the Panthers within 10-points early in the fourth quarter, Ryan and company faced a third and 21 that could have given the Panthers a chance to get back into the game. But Ryan found Tevin Coleman for 31 yards and first down. Two plays later, Coleman scampered 55-yards for a touchdown that ended the competitive phase of the game for all intents and purposes.
The Falcons will end the regular season with the league's top scoring offense. But the fact that in recent weeks they have leaned on their defense just as much as their offense may be the best sign for Atlanta with the playoffs on the horizon.
The Falcons played well in September and October, but they are peaking in December.