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Point-Counterpoint: Week 13


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 13 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:With an 0-4 record against winning teams this season, the Tampa Bay Bucs are paper tigers.

What we're saying:Atlanta only needs to point to what the Bucs did against them in Week 9 at the Georgia Dome to remind everyone of exactly what Tampa Bay is. The young Bucs went toe-to-toe with the Falcons, requiring a four-down goal line stand to win the game by a touchdown. Also, the Falcons are 3-2 on the road this season and are clearly playing at a different level in opponent's stadiums than at home.

What they will say:Special teams have been a weakness of the Falcons this season. Last time against the Bucs, they allowed Michael Spurlock to torch them for 209 yards on four returns, one for an 89-yard touchdown. That phase of the game could be the difference Sunday.

What we're saying:Since that game, the Falcons have had 14 kicks returned against them, allowing 19.8 yards per return. The insertion of defensive end Kroy Biermann back onto coverage teams has made a significant improvement, and the rest of the squad continues to gel under coordinator Keith Armstrong. The Falcons don't often make the same mistakes twice, and that discipline will show Sunday as they put what they learned in the film room following Spurlock's returns into action on the field.

What they will say:Matt Ryan hasn't thrown an interception in four straight games, but against Tampa and one of the better pass defenses in the league (tied for second in interceptions) and on the road, that could change.

What we're saying:The Falcons have all the confidence in the world that their third-year quarterback will make good decisions with the football. In his current four-game stretch he's faced playoff-caliber defenses in Tampa, Baltimore, St. Louis and Green Bay. What the Falcons may actually rather talk about is Tampa's young QB, Josh Freeman, who hasn't thrown a pick in his past three games, since the two he tossed against Atlanta.

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