The Atlanta Falcons host the Oakland Raiders in Week 6, and in Wednesday's press conference quarterback Matt Ryan was focused on the challenges Oakland would provide. Denying that he viewed it as a trap game, he stressed that the quality in the league was high enough that every team had playmakers and that preparation was key:
"I think they're a good football team, I really do. They have talented guys. Offensively, I haven't seen much of what they've done, but I know they have some skill guys that can make some plays and score points. On the defensive side of the ball, they have guys that can change outcomes of games. I think they have some talented players. When you turn on the tape, you can't worry about what their record or statistics say. When you turn on the tape, it's a good football team."
Ryan also highlighted the work of Tony Gonzalez, who continues to be key for the Atlanta offense:
"He's been that guy for us. He's made some critical plays for us in a lot of situations. He never flinches, he really doesn't. He never flinches even when he's covered he seems to make plays. He's one of the best players to ever play this game."
Gonzales has 39 receptions for 388 yards with four touchdowns. Ryan has connected with him 29 times for a first down, the highest total on the team and more than a third of all of Atlanta's passing first downs.
With expectations for the 2012 Falcons only growing, Ryan cited his experience when talking about what this made year different:
"I've been through a lot of different situations in my career. Had some good things happen and had some bad things happen. Just learning from them, and I think when you have those things under your belt you go out and you feel very comfortable on the field. You're able to react and play well."
According to ESPN's projections, Ryan is on pace to reach career highs in completions, yards and touchdowns. For Falcons fans, though, what will really matter is playoff performance.