NFC South: Rams-Falcons

Live from Glendale

January, 3, 2009
1/03/09
1:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Just arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium, where, as of the moment, the roof is closed.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando and I will be providing updates and our thoughts throughout the day from the game between the Cardinals and Falcons.

Why not the Falcons?

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
7:12
PM ET
 
 Kevin Terrell/Getty Images
 Mike Smith, left, and Matt Ryan have the Atlanta Falcons on a roll heading into the playoffs.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

ATLANTA -- In the postgame locker room Sunday at the Georgia Dome, a slogan was reborn.

What it lacks in originality is made up for by the possibility that it just might fit the Atlanta Falcons better than any team that ever has used the rallying cry.

"The message is, 'Why not us?'" coach Mike Smith said.

Why not?

As they enter the playoffs, the Falcons just might be the most dangerous team in the NFC. They're the hottest, entering the playoffs on a three-game winning streak. The top-seeded Giants and No. 2 Carolina are the obvious favorites and the most complete teams in the NFC.

"Why not us?" Atlanta receiver Roddy White said. "We're a good team. We beat a lot of good teams."

The Falcons just might have a point. At the moment, Atlanta has as much going for it as any team. Here are five reasons why the Falcons could win the NFC:

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Maybe missing the playoffs was the best thing that could happen for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the long term.

You didn't really think the Bucs would do any more than one and done if they somehow stumbled into the playoffs, did you?

This just speeds up the inevitable. There's going to be a lot of change in Tampa Bay in the offseason and it can start now. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will be gone and you have to wonder if an ownership that hasn't always shown patience will stick with coach Jon Gruden after his team lost its last four games.

Even if Gruden stays, plenty of people will go. Start with quarterback Jeff Garcia. His contract's up, he's 38 and not a Gruden favorite. Let the Donovan McNabb or Matt Cassel speculation begin.

No matter who the Bucs get at quarterback next season, he's going to need more help than Garcia received. The running game was inconsistent most of the year and Antonio Bryant was the only receiver who was worth a darn. And the overhaul won't be limited to offense.

The defense really showed its age down the stretch and that, more than anything, was the reason for the late-season collapse.

Rapid Reaction: Falcons 31, Rams 27

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
4:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

ATLANTA -- The feel-good story that is the Atlanta Falcons is complete. But it's not over.

The Falcons, thought by many to be among the NFL's worst teams at the start of the season, are in the playoffs with an 11-5 record and only a last-second field goal by Carolina's John Kasay against New Orleans prevented them from winning the NFC South title.

Perhaps the best news of all is that the Falcons aren't just stumbling into the playoffs. They're on a three-game winning streak and have momentum behind them. They've also got a knack for getting better almost every week.

If you want to go ahead and underestimate the Falcons again and say they'll be out after the first round of the playoffs, go ahead. You'll probably be wrong. They've been exceeding expectations all year and they're not done yet.

Turner's pace good omen for Falcons

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
2:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

ATLANTA -- Michael Turner gained 59 yards on 13 carries in the first half. That may not be spectacular, but it's significant when put into context.

Turner has rushed for 50 or more yards in the first half in seven previous games. The Falcons are 7-0 in those contests.

Milloy, Anderson out for Falcons

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
12:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

ATLANTA -- The Falcons will be without starting strong safety Lawyer Milloy.

He's been declared inactive because of a back injury suffered last week. Jamaal Fudge will start in his place. There will be one other lineup change for the Falcons: Defensive end Jamaal Anderson won't play because of a sprained ankle. Chauncey Davis will start in his place.

Atlanta's other inactives are: D.J. Shockley, Glenn Sharpe, Tony Gilbert, Wayne Gandy, Alex Stepanovich and Quinn Ojinnaka.

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