The good news for the Falcons? After 16 weeks, they finally have nailed down the top seed in the NFC postseason field.
Bad news? The talk and focus and pressure regarding whether they will squander home-field advantage can now officially commence.
Though the Falcons are 0-3 in the playoffs since the arrival of Matt Ryan, Mike Smith, and Thomas Dimitroff, only one of those losses came at home, a 48-21 Saturday night shellacking from the sixth-seeded Packers.
Safety Thomas DeCoud thinks this year will be different.
“It’s in the back of our minds,” DeCoud said after Saturday night’s win, regarding January 2011’s loss. “But we know we are a different team than we were two years ago with the passion we play with and the play-making ability is much higher than we had two years ago.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan also believes that there’s something different about the 2012 Falcons.
“I think we are definitely a different football team than we’ve been the past couple of years,” Ryan said. “Right now I think our confidence is high and our experience in the past, both good and bad, have helped us get to the point we’re at. I think the key is to continue to keep the focus where it’s been.”
The best thing the Falcons can do is use the attention and pressure and scrutiny regarding past playoff failures as a chip on their collective shoulders, transforming their postseason as an effort to prove wrong everyone who doubts the franchise based on their past inability to deliver when the games count the most.