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"
Vs. the NFC South
Division games generally carry more weight than others, which is why the next two games are so important for the Falcons with the Saints and Panthers coming to town to finish the season. In 2010, the 12-2 Falcons sit atop the NFC South and look to clinch their first division title since 2004 with a win over New Orleans. Under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are 10-6 against NFC South opponents, including 4-0 this year. The Falcons have a chance to go undefeated in their division for the first time in franchise history.
To give you an idea of how Smith stacks up with the variables of Monday's game, here are some of his records that could come into play against the Saints:
Record vs. the NFC: 23-11 * When the Falcons play at home: 19-3 * When the Falcons play a night game: 2-1 * When the Falcons score first: 25-6 * When the Falcons lead at halftime: 26-1 * When the Falcons lead at the start of the fourth quarter: 25-1 * When the Falcons lead in time of possession: 21-5 * When the Falcons' offense gains more than 300 total yards: 23-7 * When the defense holds the opponent to less than 300 total yards: 12-0 * When the Falcons win the turnover battle: 20-1 * When the Falcons are penalized five times or less: 20-10
Tale of Turnovers
By air or by land, the Falcons have been able to reel in turnovers on a very consistent basis this season. In fact, the Falcons are fourth in the league in turnover differential. This could be a deciding factor Monday against the Saints as the two teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum in this category. The Falcons are sitting nice with a plus-13 turnover differential. The Saints are 21st in the league with a minus-5.
In 2010, the Falcons' offense has been led by a three-pronged attack of quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and wide receiver Roddy White. With a 14-yard completion to Turner in the first quarter of Atlanta's 31-10 win over Carolina in Week 13, Ryan eclipsed the 3,000 passing yards mark for the season. With Turner rushing for more than 1,000 yards and White receiving for more than 1K, the Falcons were the first team in the NFC with a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver this season. The Falcons have posted this trifecta six times in franchise history, with the last time coming in 2008.
Ryan has run one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL in terms of scoring this season. Atlanta ranks third in the NFL, scoring on 65 of its 154 offensive possessions (42.2 percent). Additionally, the Falcons rang among the league leaders in third-down and fourth-down efficiency, as well as total first downs.
Speaking of converting fourth downs, Smith has become known as a bit of a gambler when it comes to the final down. He has shown all season that he has faith in his offense when facing that situation. Since 2008, the Falcons rank second in the NFL with a 67.3 percent conversion rate on fourth down, converting 33-of-49 attempts. In 2010, the Falcons have converted 11-of-13, including two on the first offensive drive against the Seahawks during Week 15. This season, the Falcons lead the NFL with an 84.6 percent conversion rate on fourth down.