The Falcons understand what is on the line for Sunday's game against the Panthers. An NFC South title, a No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history and a bye is the prize for defeating Carolina. No one needs to tell the players or coaches what's at stake.
Even though Coach Mike Smith's 24-hour rule is in effect (24 hours after you win or lose, you must move on to the next game), the Birds are still not happy with the outcome Monday. That will fuel their fire this week.
The media has surmised that the Saints loss will refocus the Falcons' attention for the rest of the season. I contend that Coach Smith's club does an outstanding job of focusing on the task at hand each and every week. It doesn't need a loss to do that.
This 2010 team does not lose focus or need to be reminded of their internal goals. They know what's in front of them and they remain steadfast in achieving those goals.
The Panthers are a division foe and beat the Falcons three straight times in Atlanta from 2005-07. Coach Smith has not swept Carolina since taking over the reins in 2008. But it's not about the Panthers this week. It's all about getting back to playing Falcons football.
For Atlanta to get to where it eventually wants to go, the first step begins at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Georgia Dome.