Murmurs of doubt have been quieted, replaced with more, and more voices all coming to the same realization-- the Atlanta Falcons are for real, and they're on pace for a historical finish. Prior to the 2012 season even the most bullish fan wouldn't have thought an undefeated season was possible, but now at 8-0 that could become a reality.
In beating the Dallas Cowboys last night, the Atlanta Falcons not only kept their perfect record intact, but also overcame their penultimate road block to a perfect finish. We all know the cliches: "On any given Sunday...", but the reality is that now there is only one team who has a winning record remaining are the New York Giants (5-4) who they meet in week 14. The remaining teams? A paltry 22-33.
There are some minefields to be navigated in the remaining schedule, with the Buccaneers, Lions, and Saints all being more dangerous than their records dictate, however this iteration of the Atlanta Falcons have found a way to do something previous versions didn't, win. It's not that Mike Smith teams in the past haven't had success, it's that they perennially looked like a team built for the regular season. Leaning too heavily on Michael Turner, having Tony Gonzalez bail them out on third down, and a defense that was always so-so, led to a team that would catch teams unaware, but struggle when they met the NFL's elite.
Not so in 2012, where Mike Smith has found true balance. The offense are spreading the ball around to myriad weapons, the defense are utilizing multiple rushers, the pieces Thomas Dimitroff put into place are finally being used correctly, and that is why the Falcons sit at 8-0. Is 16-0 a pipe dream? Probably... but with the best version of the Falcons in years, who's to say how far this team can go.