With the NFC South wrapped up, the Atlanta Falcons are now working toward getting home field advantage in the NFC when they take on the Carolina Panthers this Sunday. While there is a large disparity between the Falcons' and Panthers' records, Atlanta coach Mike Smith knows this will still be a tough game (via Falcons.com):
"Very dangerous team. This team played us right to the wire last time. They're a very physical football team on defense. They've got an offense that's very explosive. When we've played them they've been tight games since we've been here. I anticipate it's going to be another hard fought game over in Charlotte."
Atlanta barely got by Carolina in Week 4, needing a last-minute Matt Bryant field goal to win the game. Cam Newton and the Panthers rushed all over the Falcons, racking up 199 yards on the ground. The Panthers also sacked Matt Ryan seven times.
Smith acknowledged that Atlanta probably should not have won that first contest, but also said pulling out that type of game instills confidence. The Falcons have been winning those types of games all season, while the Panthers have usually found themselves on the wrong end of those close outcomes. Smith said winning close games is the mark of a good team:
"I've been on that type of team in Kansas City where we won two games, but I think every game was three or four points as far as the loss goes. I don't know what it is about the bounce of the ball. Good teams find a way to win. It just shows you how close it is. It could go either way. It's those good teams that win those close games and we've been very fortunate because we are a good football team."