The Falcons were among the top teams in the league last season in scoring on offense and that fact helped them get a lot of wins, but Atlanta's defense also had something to do with those wins. Under Mike Nolan, the Falcons defense kept opponents out of the endzone, ending the season ranked No. 5 in the league in scoring defense.
Take a look at who the Falcons defense faced at quarterback each week and that statistic starts to impress a little bit more. Last season the Falcons faced 11 quarterbacks with at least one Pro Bowl bid on their resume. The Falcons and the Saints were the only teams in the league that faced 11. Tampa was next with 10.
The Falcons were 11-2 against the Pro Bowl QBs in 2012 and held eight of them to a QB rating below 85. They allowed 12 passing touchdowns and took away 17 passes and pressured them with 25 sacks.
They intercepted two or more passes against five of them; a list that includes New Orleans' Drew Brees and New York's Eli Manning.
Against Brees in November, the Falcons picked off the Saints QB five times, a first in Brees' career, and ended his league-record 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. This particular performance came on a night when cornerback Asante Samuel was out for most of the game. Chris Owens and Robert McClain chipped in that Thursday night with a pass breakup each.