The road to the Super Bowl goes through Atlanta. After beating Detroit 31-18 last Sunday, the 13-2 the Falcons clinched the No. 1 seed, assuring they won't have to leave the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome until the Lombardi Trophy is up for grabs. This bodes well for the Falcons, who at 7-0 have yet to lose a home game. Trying to end that streak will be the Buccaneers, who was eliminated a few games into their current five-game losing streak.
Atlanta head coach Mike Smith has said that his team will play to win the game and that he will not be resting his starters.
Matt Ryan may have played his way out of MVP chatter, but has set career highs in passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage and passer rating. The fifth-year quarterback will try to set another new career mark by winning a playoff game. Despite three appearances, Ryan's Falcons have yet to advance past the Divisional Round. Last year's 24-2 defeat at the hands of the Giants was the most embarrassing of the three, and the Boston College product will need to overcome his postseason struggles to get the proverbial monkey off his back.
Josh Freeman got a literal monkey off his back, looking to be in the best shape of his career in 2012. Despite a brief Renaissance, the fourth-year helmsman has thrown eight interceptions in his last two games, capping off a five-game losing streak for the Buccaneers. Their Week 15 loss to New Orleans eliminated them from playoff contention for the fifth consecutive season. Heading into the final week of the season, Tampa Bay is in the 11th spot for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Game Time/Date: Sunday, December 30; 1 p.m. ET
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
TV Schedule: Fox
TV Distribution Map: The506
Radio Schedule: AM 790 The Zone/ 94.1 STAR FM