Falcons taking advantage of scheduling

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NFL,Jeffrey Tomik

They are the only undefeated team in the NFL. They have a quarterback who has a 29-4 career record at home. They have one of the best receiving corps in the league, and their defense has allowed just 18.8 points a game.

But the Atlanta Falcons (6-0) are somehow soaring under the radar as fellow NFC powers like the Giants, Bears, 49ers and Packers have had impressive wins in recent weeks.

Meanwhile the Falcons, who are coming off a bye, have defeated the Panthers (1-5), Redskins (3-4) and Raiders (2-4) by a combined 12 points in their last three games.

Atlanta may be undefeated, but it has yet to beat a team with a winning record. The schedule is not the Falcons' fault, but they won't be challenged much in their remaining 10 games, either. Atlanta has just two teams with a winning record left on its schedule. It plays the slumping Cardinals (4-3) at home on Nov. 18 and hosts the Giants (5-2) on Dec. 16.

With a four-game division lead over the Saints and Buccaneers, the Falcons could clinch the NFC South in November.

There's no arguing the talent in Atlanta, especially on offense. Quarterback Matt Ryan is having the best season of his career with 14 touchdowns to just six interceptions and a 98.8 passer rating. Roddy White (553 yards, four touchdowns) and Julio Jones (376 yards, four touchdowns) are one of the top receiving duos in the league, and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (430 yards, four touchdowns) has proven he is still one of the best tight ends.

The Falcons are on the inside track to earn the top seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But that hasn't necessarily been the recipe for success recently. In the past five seasons, the No. 1 seed in the NFC lost its opening playoff game four times -- including the top-seeded Falcons in 2010.

Atlanta is rolling and has an easy road ahead. While that may lead to the top seed, the Falcons' lack of competition during the regular season may be a detriment come playoff time.

- Jeffrey Tomik

jtomik@washingtonexaminer.com

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