It has been a season of, “Yeah, buts …”
The Falcons go 13-3. But the record is a mere launching pad for debates that begin with, “Yeah, but…”
Matt Ryan throws 32 touchdown passes, outplays Drew Brees, a couple of Mannings, and others. But we hear, “Yeah, but…”
The defense ranks among NFL leaders with 20 interceptions and 31 takeaways. Here it comes again: “Yeah, but …”
On Sunday, the NFC’s No. 1 seed will play at home against the No. 5 seed. The Falcons, the No. 1 seed, are favored by only a hiccup. Point spreads are about perception. Perceptions about the Falcons stem from the fact that their obvious success in recent regular seasons (56-24 since 2008) has been submarined by playoff fizzles (0-3).
Regular seasons get teams to the playoffs. Playoffs define franchises and legacies.
The most recent snapshot of the Falcons’ legacy is a 24-2 playoff loss last January in New York. Their only points came on a safety. Defense 2, Offense 0.
An organization doesn’t draft, sign and trade for the likes of Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner, Harry Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers to get to January and wind up with bupkis.
This next game needs to be about affirmation. Management has invested heavily in the offense. If the Falcons finally show an ability to survive and advance, it will be because of what brought them this far: offense.