Revenge is on my mind, of course. There was a certain no-call on pass interference that you may have heard of earlier in the season. Additionally, there were late hits quarterback hits that were not called, they just weren’t obvious enough to make the news.
But a bigger deal, at least for me, is proving that yes, Virginia, the Atlanta Falcons can win in the playoffs. Ironically, we were winning playoff games in the decades before Ryan, we just weren’t getting to the playoffs often enough to build off those wins. By contrast, the Matt Ryan era has been 75-57 in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs. So while Matt Ryan is by far the winning-est quarterback in franchise history, both Chris Chandler and Mike Vick have better playoff records, despite Ryan being statistically better in every way.
Are we headed for another choke? Doesn’t look like it. An in-depth look at quarterbacks’ seasons reveals that contrary to popular belief, they do not play well throughout the whole regular season, then fall apart in the playoffs. Noted choke artists of recent memory Andy Dalton, Phillip Rivers, Tony Romo, arguably Peyton Manning, and Carson Palmer all had their play drop precipitously in their last few games as the playoffs drew near on the years of their choke jobs.
Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has been playing as well as ever. Hasn’t thrown a pick in a number of games. His yardage and touchdowns are as impressive as ever and actually diminished by the fact that in all of the last four games, we got conservative if not took Ryan off the field in the fourth quarter because we were so far ahead. He was obviously playing much worse late in the 2008 and 2010 seasons. You could also make a case for 2011 because while his stats were good, we got blown out of New Orleans. 2012, the year we did fine in the playoffs, saw no late season regression. Also, choking teams tend to not do well in prime time games either (because that’s also a big stage). We dominated both of ours, but have struggled in that environment in the past.
As far as the Seahawks go, they’re the worst road team that won’t pick early in the Draft. And they come to what has a slight likelihood of being the last Georgia Dome game ever (Packers would have to play there, Cowboys wouldn’t). For the second straight season, their defense has been incapable of stopping the better quarterbacks of the league (no, Matthew Stafford with a bad finger doesn’t qualify), although it is really good against the run. The loss of Earl Thomas hasn’t exactly helped matters.
Now, it’s entirely possible that they can score points as their offense has improved. I’m not quite sold. 31 points on Arizona’s second-ranked defense is impressive, but being unable to get much offense going on Detroit until their unimpressive “D” got tired from having to stay on the field is not. If our pass rush gets to Russell Wilson, I can’t see us losing this game. If not, we’re only slight favorites.
Here’s hoping for an appearance in the NFC Championship RISE UP!!!