Every week there's a rush of information in the days leading up to game day. Bloggers, TV analysts, reporters, fans … everyone has an opinion, and in the age of hyper-speed new media, everyone's got a chance to share it.
But sometimes it's tough to focus through all the noise.
Here we examine three storylines entering Week 12 that you'll surely hear all about. We present the flipside — the ideas from inside the walls of team headquarters — to suggest what the Atlanta Falcons are thinking of the popular headlines.
What they will say:Cornerback Charles Woodson — along with defensive end Clay Matthews — is the focal point of the defense. Quarterback Matt Ryan will have to watch for Woodson, the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, at all times, since he'll likely be matched up with star wide receiver Roddy White.
What we're saying:Matthews is a player who must be accounted for and Woodson's reputation is acknowledged, but there may be an underrated player on the Packers' D that Atlanta will be watching even more: cornerback Tramon Williams.
The fourth-year corner is having an outstanding season. Starting opposite Woodson, he's currently tied for fourth in the NFL with four interceptions and his 18 pass deflections is tied for second.
What they will say: The Packers feature a blitz-heavy defense that comes from all angles and has the secondary coverage (see above) to hold up while the quarterback is pursued. Atlanta's offense has looked good in recent weeks, but this may be the most talent on defense it has seen all season.
What we're saying:There's no arguing that Green Bay's defense is lethal, and after a week of studying film of it, the Falcons will be the first to tell anyone this.
But Atlanta has faced two stout defenses for two weeks in a row. Against one of the top blitzing defenses in the league last week, the Falcons befuddled the Rams, beating them with a mix of play calls that kept them on their heels, on the field and at times incapable of stopping Atlanta.
Also, Atlanta has introduced its no-huddle package in those two weeks to combat their opponents' heavy blitzes to great success. The Falcons believe they have tools in their playbook bag to deal with any look in front of them.
What they will say:The Falcons defense has looked good at times and at other points this season has been torched for a lot of yards, especially the pass defense. Against what may be the best offense Atlanta has faced all season, the Falcons' defense will have its work cut out for it to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers scoring attack, an attack that put up 31 points last week on the road against the Vikings.
What we're saying:They won't disagree that there are more than a few plays on defense that the Falcons' defense would like to have back this season, and it also won't disagree that it sometimes bends but doesn't break.
But what the Falcons' defense will emphasize is the break part, or the lack of it. It has had a knack for coming up with a key play when it's needed most to make a stop to help secure a win (see fourth-and-1 against Tampa Bay or last week's goal-line interception by safety William Moore).
One other thing the Falcons' defense point to is points allowed per game. Atlanta's number is 19.2, and it's good enough for seventh in the NFL.