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Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Atlanta Falcons: Avoiding Another Slow Start Is Paramount For Atlanta

The Atlanta Falcons had a great chance to establish themselves as the NFC's elite team with a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6. With the Chicago Bears losing, they could have been the only one-loss team in their conference and in the driver's seat for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Kevin Kolb and the Eagles' passing game ended that possibility early.

Prior to their 31-17 loss on Sunday, I warned that a fast start by the Eagles could spell disaster for the Falcons. At the end of the first quarter the Eagles led 14-0 and the Falcons didn't get closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Against the Cincinnati Bengals they should have no excuse. Since 2008, the Bengals are 24th in the NFL in first quarter points scored averaging only 3.5 points per. Furthering the importance of a strong start, the Falcons are 13-3 under head coach Mike Smith when leading after the first quarter.On the flip side, the Bengals are 3-12 since 2008 when they trail after one stanza.

The formula seems simple enough. If the Falcons start fast on Sunday, they should have no trouble beating an inferior team but if they get off to another slow start it could be a long day in the Georgia Dome.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.