Every week there's a rush of information in the days leading up to gameday. 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 7 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:Last week's 31-17 loss to the Eagles showed the Falcons aren't an elite football team. Additionally they're facing the Bengals, who are coming off a bye week, and had an extra week to prepare for Atlanta.
What we're saying:After playing four of the first six weeks on the road, Atlanta returns to the Georgia Dome to bounce back from last week's tough loss. Under head coach Mike Smith the Falcons are 15-3 at home. Atlanta has also shown an ability to bounce back after losses. The franchise is 9-3 coming off a loss with Smith at the helm.
What they will say:The Falcons will have their hands full with the T.Ocho show coming to town. Wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocino's 792 receiving yards account for more than half of Cincinnati's total passing yards on the season. After allowing 320 yards passing to the Eagles, the Falcons will have to key-in on those two players to prevent a repeat of last week.
What we're saying:Atlanta knows Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is still an old-school coach, despite the weapons at his disposal in the passing game. Cincinnati features a tough running back in Cedric Benson and the Bengals would be more than happy to run him all over the Falcons. Smith and his staff know they must stop Benson, who is picking up his production in recent weeks. After a tough first week, he's averaged 91 yards per game in the past four games, 4.1 yards/carry. Against Tampa in Week 5, he burst through for 144 yards.
What they will say:Smith didn't rule out starting cornerback Dunta Robinson after suffering a concussion against the Eagles last week, but it's not promising that he'll play.
"Right now Dunta is in the league-concussion protocol," Smith said during his Monday news conference. "He will go through this week and we'll have to wait and see that he gets cleared by an independent doctor. That's where we're at in terms of him physically."
With Robinson out, second-year corner Chris Owens will step into the starter's role and his lack of experience will be a liability against the talented receivers Cincinnati comes to play with.
What we're saying:Don't sleep on Owens.
A third-round draft pick in 2009, Owens stepped into the starting lineup for the final six games last season and was tested consistently. The 5-foot-9 receiver has shown a toughness in run defense and a knack for delivering punishing blows as a tackler so far this season.
In coverage, he's got one interception on the year, but last season once he got his rookie feet under him, he closed out the final two games with a takeaway in each, including one in coverage on Terrell Owens against Buffalo.
Owens will have growing and learning pains at times, but he's no liability and the Falcons are more than confident with him across from Brent Grimes and the veteran Brian Williams in the slot.