There is certainly an art to the way that the Atlanta Falcons have pulled out so many games they had no business winning over the past few years. A quarterback like Matt Ryan, in his short career already establishing himself as an all-time great late-game player, tends to tip the scales almost single-handedly towards your team when it goes down to the wire.
Including the incredible comeback to kick a game-winning field goal that led Atlanta past the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round of the 2013 NFL postseason, eight of the Falcons’ 14 wins came by one score or less while many involved pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat. Unlike in Ryan’s first playoff win, there were a few contests during the regular season, like in an early win against the Carolina Panthers, that just left you tipping your cap to Hotlanta for pulling another one out somehow, someway.
This may turn out to be much tougher down the stretch in the Falcons’ 2013 regular season schedule.
Starting Week 10, Atlanta closes out three division champs: at Green Bay Packers, vs. Washington Redskins and at San Francisco 49ers. This stretch also includes teams with very reasonable Super Bowl aspirations in the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints. The only chance they might have to breathe a little here is probably Week 13 at the Buffalo Bills, with at Tampa Bay Buccaneers and closing vs. the Carolina Panthers — who hammered Atlanta down the stretch last year — both providing sneaky-difficult matchups.
The overall improvement of the NFC South will also play a major role in requiring Atlanta to be on their game all four quarters more often to hit 13-3 once again.