USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Falcons are a different team with a new swagger -- and deservedly so.
What separates the Atlanta Falcons circa 2012 from past iterations? One simple statistic -- Tony Gonzalez had nine receiving yards, and they won. In the past the Falcons would have struggled when Gonzalez couldn't make an impact, but with this new, varied attack Atlanta will be a dangerous post-season team; possibly for the first time ever.
This isn't the first time Atlanta have had weapons, but the first time Matt Ryan has shown enough confidence in his arm and abilities to use them all. There was always an air of Ryan holding back, and taking safer underneath routes. Recievers got their numbers, but this season we've seen varied success across the entire team.
Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez have combined for 3,340 yards this year -- and there's still a game in hand. With all three receivers ostensibly being thousand-yard weapons, there's no good answer for opposing secondary's. The Detroit Lions learned this the hard way. While they may not have the most talented corners and safeties, they opted to take Gonzalez out of the game, and it didn't help.
The Falcons have garnered plenty of criticism for being an overrated team, but in the last two weeks they've taken the Giants' and Lions' best -- and looked none-the-worse. This team is different, and Matt Ryan is playing with confidence. It doesn't look like the 2012 Falcons will be an easy out, and the rest of the NFL should be prepared.