NFC Championship Game: Falcons Preview

Kevin C. Cox

What and who to watch on this 2012 Atlanta Falcons squad as they head into the NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers.

Falcons

  • The Falcons have posted five consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history and have qualified for the postseason in three consecutive years for the first time in franchise history.
  • Under head coach Mike Smith, team has made the playoffs in 4 of the past 5 seasons.
  • Falcons had 3 players selected to the Pro Bowl: TE Tony Gonzalez (13th), WR Julio Jones (1st) and QB Matt Ryan (2nd).
  • QB Matt Ryan has 56 regular-season wins as a starter, most by any QB in his first five NFL seasons.
  • Ryan recorded his first career playoff win last week and tied the franchise postseason record with 3 TD passes.
  • Ryan passed for a team-record 4,719 yards and 32 TDs in 2012. His 68.6 completion percentage was also a club record. Ryan had a career-high 99.1 passer rating, second highest mark in franchise history.
  • In his career at home (including playoffs), Ryan has a 34-6 (.850).
  • Has posted 100+ rating in 33 games and the Falcons are 32-1 (.970) in those games. Has a 100+ rating in 20 home games and Atlanta is 20-0 in those games.
  • The Falcons pass offense averaged 281.8 net pass yards per game, the highest in team history. Their offense averaged 369.1 net yards per game, the second best mark in franchise history (376.6 in 2011).
  • RB Michael Turner rushed for 10 TDs, his team-record fifth consecutive 10 TD season.
  • Since joining Atlanta in 2008, Turner has 62 rush TDs, second most in NFL (incl. playoffs).
  • WRs Roddy White (1,351) and Julio Jones (1,198) are the first Falcons teammates with 1,000+ receiving yards in same season since 1998.
  • Roddy White had a team-record sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season.
  • Since 2007 (incl. playoffs), White has 590 receptions, the most in the NFC.
  • In his last two games vs. SF, White has 15 catches for 314 yards (157 per game) and 2 TDs.
  • TE Tony Gonzalez was named to his 13th Pro Bowl, most ever for any TE.
  • Gonzalez led the team with 93 catches, has fifth season with 90+ receptions, most by a TE in NFL history.
  • DE John Abraham has 126 career sacks, most by active player (incl. playoffs).
  • Abraham led the team with 10 sacks in 2012, his seventh season with 10+ sacks.
  • LBs Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon are tied for the team lead with 95 tackles.
  • CB Asante Samuel led team with 19 passes defensed.
  • Samuel has INTs in three of his past four games.
  • Samuel holds the NFL postseason record with 4 career INT-TDs. He has seven career INTs in the playoffs, second most by an active player and tied for sixth most in NFL history.
  • Safety Thomas Decoud was second among safeties with six INTs.
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