The League

Michael Kun

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Sticking with the Falcons


I started out this season predicting that the Falcons would surprise everyone and make a deep run into the playoffs, perhaps even to the Super Bowl, and I'm going to stick with that.

Barring a major injury, I'm putting my money on the Falcons playing in Dallas this February.

Yes, I saw Monday night's game.

And, yes, I'm well aware that the Saints beat the Falcons.

And, yes, I'm well aware that the Falcons offense sputtered and the defense was the beneficiary of some sloppy play by Drew Brees. (Note to Brees: when an NBA player tries a fancy pass and it gets picked off, the other team will end up with two points. When one of your backhanded passes gets picked off, the other team gets six points. Seven, if they have a decent placekicker.)

But, in an odd way, Monday's loss to the Saints only makes it more likely that the Falcons will reach the Super Bowl, not less.

Let me explain.

The Falcons and Saints have split their season series. The Falcons won 27-24 in week 3. The Saints won 17-14 in week 16.

Now imagine for a moment that the Falcons had won Monday night's game, sweeping the season series with the Saints. Then imagine that the Falcons and the Saints were to meet up again in the playoffs. What are the odds of the Falcons beating the Saints three times in the same season? What are the odds of any team beating another team three times in the same season? Not good. It just doesn't happen very often that one team will beat another three times. Call it pride. Call it competitive spirit. Call it statistics. Call it parity. Call it whatever you want, but because the Saints won on Monday, the Falcons actually have a better chance of beating them should they meet up for a third time in the postseason.

But there's more. The Falcons are an awfully strong team at home. You've seen the statistics. In the Matt Ryan era, they had only lost once at home before Monday. Now it's twice. Should they meet up with the Saints again in the playoffs, the game will be at the Georgia Dome. Do you really think the Saints can beat the Falcons at the Georgia Dome twice in little more than a month? Once was tough enough. But twice? Really? Sure, it's possible, but it's going to be awfully difficult.

And that difficulty extends to every other NFC playoff team so long as the Falcons get to play at home. In short, the road to the Super Bowl looks like it's going to go through Atlanta, and there's no reason right now to believe that any NFC team can knock the Falcons off at home.

The Saints might have had the best shot, and they blew it by winning in Atlanta on Monday night.

By Michael Kun  |  December 28, 2010; 2:35 PM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons , Michael Kun , NFC , New Orleans Saints , Playoffs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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What was up with that double pass-interference call? I've watched thousands of games and have never seen that called. Ed Hochuli's a good ref but I don't understand it, Gruden said he didn't either. Not whining, ha ha, the Falcons beat themselves later, but that was a crucial play that changed momentum early on. What do you think?

Posted by: StikeDC1 | December 28, 2010 4:49 PM

The argument that a team that has lost to a team twice is unlikely to lose to them a third time is almost certainly statistically incorrect. That is like saying that because a coin has landed on heads twice, it is now over 50% likely to land on tails the third time. That is not how the world works. At the beginning of the season, it would have been unlikely. But now that the first two games have been won, the chances of the third game have nothing to do with the outcomes of the first two.

Posted by: ppppspalding | December 28, 2010 7:04 PM

after careful cogitation regarding the Mon. Nite game. I was very curious about the team's spirit against the Panthers. The workmanship reassured me to the extent that I further agree with Mr. Kun's assessment of the Monday loss as equivalent to a Gaterade-like dousing of the offense. It will be in their minds to focus on the task.
Further look at how the losses by the Falcons are spaced out over the season. Yes, I think the loss to the Saints as playoffs approach do not increase doubts about their ability (evidence is the Saints performance last season's end.) but help burn the focus of attention to details and opportunities even more clearly on their consciousness. The bye week will be even more beneficial. Atlanta is not outstanding, but they get the job done, and there is an outstanding confidence in their quarterback during the last 3 minutes of a game.

FurtherI expect the Saints to win in Seattle, but they will have a much harder road to travel. Brees throws too many interceptions. Next examine the Saints running game and their run defense. Yes they were effective against Atlanta, for one game. Let7s see how they do for 3 more weeks.

The NFC team everyone worries about is the Eagles. Same with me.

PS. Oh yeah the guy who said statistically that any 2 wins don't increase the probability that a team will lose/win the third time. Hey, we are not talking coins, we are talking about teams of people and thousands of screaming fans, not coins.

Posted by: daitoclass | January 3, 2011 12:34 AM

So, notice the Saints backfield situation? How many passes will it take for Brees to win? 45? or 50? they can't run with trust, reading the holes and line tendencies will be almost void with the new guys coming in. those walk-throughs they are taking before leaving for Seattle will take on more importance for the run. I have changed my line and I think Seattle has a chance, especially if you look at all the bulletin board fodder that the NFL press has created over Seattle's chances. Should we say a snowball in hell would have better odds? This overwhelming preponderance of negativity should help inspire the Seahawks and their fans. A really noisy group plus a team that wants a little respect. I mean when the typical player says, "No one thought we could...." this is almost literally the truth on the Seahawks chances by the major mouthpieces I have read....
So, look for Brees to say, "We can too run the football." and they will make a token attempt to establish that early. Then he will get to work heaving the ball 45-50 times to make the Saints move. They will not be able to count on the short passes, but more like 25 to 30 yard plus variety. If only the Seahawks can come up with a pass rush....they are 7-9 for a reason, I guess. So, I put a quarter of my chips on the Seahawks pulling an upset.

Posted by: daitoclass | January 5, 2011 8:59 PM

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