The 2016 Atlanta Falcons Have a Chance to Make History and Change Perception.
To say that fans in Atlanta are excited would be an understatement. To say that long-suffering Atlanta Falcons fans are nervous would be a gross misstatement and understatement. After posting an objectively and demonstrably impressive win against Seattle last Saturday, the 2016 Atlanta Falcons are perched and ready to host the Green Bay Packers in a contest for the National Football Conference Championship game. That’s right. Atlanta is in the NFC Championship.
The induced nausea that comes when Falcons fans think of Sunday’s tilt with Green Bay is understandable, and for a number of reasons. One, the Atlanta Falcons franchise is known for “Murphy’s Law” (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.) In fact, they could hang a banner in The Georgia Dome with those words and fans would grimace, but would do so with understanding. Two, this will be the last game ever in the aforementioned Georgia Dome.
The Dome is a place loaded with sentiment for Falcons fans, but also one that houses memories and echoes of what almost was, and some would say, what should have been. Three, Sunday’s opponent, those cheese-heads from up north, not only remind one of the 2010 “Debacle in the Dome”, but are playing exceptionally good football in recent weeks. Aaron Rodgers and Company have started to look unstoppable giving Atlanta fans a lot to be nervous about going into Sunday.
Still, this Atlanta team seems different. In fact, they are different. The coaching staff refuses to talk about anything but “The Process”…a relentless devotion to a “one day at a time” “keep the main thing the main thing” type of philosophy, and the players have bought in. The theme of “brotherhood” rings throughout Flowery Branch, and in interviews, and it rings genuine. With a rare combination of senior leadership, and young intent athleticism, infused with attitude, this Atlanta Falcons team doesn’t feel like the others that have come before them.
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Green Bay poses difficult problems for the home team…they pose difficult problems for any team. A mobile Quarterback, who sees the field as well as anyone, and who can throw on the run, combined with the kind of experience that you can’t buywill make sure that this game is close. If you think Seattle had playoff moxie, wait until Aaron Rodgers shows up.
But these Falcons are no picnic. Their ability to hold a pocket, deliver the ball in a hurry, and take advantage of poor match ups, gives Atlanta an edge that very few in the NFL, this year, enjoy. A run game that sets up play-action better than New England, allows for the offense to dictate play, and cover for a young defense. Yet, this writer still believes that whichever team’s defense makes a few quality stands, and holds the opposing offense to zero points on just a few drives, will win the game. Atlanta’s young and inexperienced defense is certainly capable.
The narrative surrounding the Atlanta Falcons franchise can alter dramatically with a win Sunday against Green Bay. To best a storied team, on a huge stage, under the bright lights and glare of the football world, would show that these Falcons are different. That they don’t adhere to the past or bow to Murphy’s Law. These “Dirty Birds” can show, with a win Sunday in the NFC Championship, that they make their own rules, and that “Brotherhood” rules the day. Simply, they can change history.