Carrying momentum in the NFL is a very important thing, and in losing their regular season finale to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Atlanta Falcons ensured they had plenty for answer for in their off week.
Their 13-3 record provides a huge opportunity for Mike Smith and the coaching staff to get his team's head on straight. A week before the divisional playoff, the Falcons have a lot to answer for. Sunday's game was one that didn't mean anything to Atlanta, and they played like it. Coming out flat-footed, they allowed over 350 yards of total offense to a Buccaneers team who were struggling to move the ball at all during a five game losing streak.
On offense there wasn't a lot Atlanta did poorly, but a multitude of things they could have improved on. Michael Turner ran poorly, Jacquizz Rodgers didn't get enough opportunities yet again, and Matt Ryan failed to stretch the field in the way he did earlier this season. Averaging just 5.4 yards per attempt, if was one of Ryan's worst marks of the season, and the offense's lack of big plays showed it.
As the Atlanta Falcons wait for the Wild Card games to wrap up, this is the chance to get themselves straight. No matter who their next opponent, they can't afford these small mistakes that will get magnified in the playoffs. If the Falcons want to quiet critics, they need to in two weeks or this season was meaningless.