From stats to trends, there are plenty of facts, figures and numbers surrounding the Falcons each week. Some of those figures might surprise you. Some might make you wonder why we keep track of some of this stuff in the first place. Either way, AtlantaFalcons.com managing editor Jay Adams breaks down some of the more interesting numbers in a new feature called "Wing Tips"
Cutting it Close
In the NFL, seasons and games are often decided by a narrow margin. Typically, the teams that thrive in those tight game situations are the ones that go on to have success. Since 2008, the Falcons rank third in the NFL with an 8-2 record in games decided by three points or less. Atlanta's 20-17 victory over the Packers in Week 12 game then a 3-0 record in such games in 2010.
Turning a Profit
The Falcons have made opponents pay for their mistakes in 2010, scoring 70 points on 21 takeaways. In Week 12 vs. the Packers, LB Curtis Lofton forced QB Aaron Rodgers to fumble on the goal line, which led to a touchback for Atlanta. It was the first turnover committed by the Packers since Week 7 and led to a Falcons TD.
Speaking of Turnovers...
The Falcons haven't turned the ball over in a franchise-record four games now. The team's previous best was three straight games — Weeks 11, 12 and 13 of the 2006 season. In the past four games, the Falcons have posted a plus-6 turnover differential, resulting in four wins. Additionally, QB Matt Ryan has gone 165 pass attempts without throwing an interception in his past four games while tossing seven TD passes.
To give you an idea of how Smith stacks up with the variables of Sunday's game, here are some of his records that could come into play against the Bucs:
Record vs. the NFC: 20-11 * When the Falcons play on the road: 10-11 * When the Falcons play during the afternoon: 4-2 * When the Falcons play outdoors: 7-8 * When the Falcons score first: 23-6 * When the Falcons lead at halftime: 24-1 * When the Falcons lead at the start of the fourth quarter: 23-1 * When the Falcons lead in time of possession: 19-5 * When the Falcons' offense gains more than 300 total yards: 22-7 * When the defense holds the opponent to less than 300 total yards: 10-0 * When the Falcons win the turnover battle: 18-1 * When the Falcons are penalized five times or less: 18-10
In 2010, Ryan and the Falcons' offense have converted 47.6 percent of third down attempts, which ranks second in the NFL. Ryan leads the league with 61 passing first downs on third down and ranks among the NFL leaders with a 101.2 passer rating and a 64.8 completion percentage on third down. Ryan has also performed well against the blitz this season. When teams send five or more defenders, Ryan has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Ryan has also posted a 97.7 passer rating against the blitz.
Getting to the Sticks
Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez has caught 51 passes for 499 yards and four touchdowns this season. Gonzalez has been one of Ryan's favorite targets on third down as the future Hall of Famer has pulled in 14 receptions for first downs on third down. Gonzalez ranks tied for eighth in the NFL and tied for fourth in the NFC in that category. The leader? Teammate Roddy White with 21 receptions for first down on third down.
Ever wonder what Falcons players are on pace to put in the statbooks by the end of the season? Here are our projections:
Matt Ryan: 381 completions, 590 attempts, 3,950 yards and 28 touchdowns * Tony Gonzalez: 74 receptions, 9.8 yards per catch, 725 yards and six touchdowns * Michael Turner: 324 attempts, 4.4 yards per carry, 1,416 yards and 10 touchdowns * Roddy White: 122 receptions, 12.7 average, 1,550 yards and 10 touchdowns * John Abraham: 38 tackles, 13 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and five passes defensed * Curtis Lofton: 151 tackles, three sacks, five tackles for loss and four forced fumbles * Matt Bryant: 35 field goals, 39 attempts, 38 extra points made and 142 total points