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Point-Counterpoint: Week 15


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 15 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:Atlanta's three-game road trip culminates with a tough cross-country trip to Seattle. Road weary, the Falcons may be in a position to drop a game, just their third loss of the season.

What we're saying:Under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons have handled West Coast trips well. In 2008 they won games at Oakland and San Diego, and throw in a trip to Minnesota and they were 3-0 in such games.

Last season's only trip west was to San Francisco, a 45-10 win.

Atlanta is heading for Seattle on Friday and the extra day of adjustment will help. However, sometimes too much is made of a team heading west. When the Falcons take the field around 4 p.m. Sunday, it will feel like noon to them, not far from a typical East Coast Sunday game.

The big adjustment for Atlanta will be on the return home, but that won't be too difficult with a win on the books.

What they will say:Seattle, at 6-7, needs the conference win desperately. At 5-4 in the conference and a Week 17 showdown with the Rams, another win could really separate the Seahawks from the Rams, who face the Chiefs on Sunday.

What we're saying:At this point in the season the Falcons are no secret and have gotten teams' best games for weeks. They're no strangers to big games with something on the line.

Atlanta began this stretch in Week 3 on the road in New Orleans, coming away with a win. In Weeks 12 and 13, the Falcons faced two conference opponents in Green Bay and Tampa with major playoff implications, earning wins in both games.

Week 10's Baltimore matchup was a nationally-televised affair, a coming-out party of sorts for Atlanta, and the Falcons delivered a win.

Additionally, in Week 7 they faced the Bengals who were coming off a bye and looking for a season-saving win. They failed and Atlanta landed its fifth win.

The Falcons are now seasoned in tough situations, and playing a Seattle team with something to gain won't make them blink twice. They'll give the Seahawks the respect they deserve, but won't put extra pressure on themselves or succumb to the heightened importance of the game.

What they will say:The 12th man flag flies in Seattle for a reason. Qwest Field is notoriously loud and the advantage will be significant for Seattle.

What we're saying:Atlanta is no stranger to a home-field advantage. While Atlanta's offense isn't as disturbed by crowd noise at home (thanks to the smart Falcons fans), they're used to the experience of standing in a loud stadium.

Atlanta is also experienced when it comes to playing in loud and ruckus stadiums. Trips to Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Philadelphia have primed the Falcons for what they may experience at Qwest.

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