Falcons get second win of the season, move to 2-4

The Atlanta Falcons took  a 24-10 lead into halftime and never relinquished it taking out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home.  The team made serious changes to get the team on what they hope is the right track.

The Falcons take on the 3-4 Cardinals on the road. Great seats and tickets are available!


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THE FIFTH DOWN; Jaguars (4-9) at Falcons (8-5)

Jaguars (4-9) at Falcons (8-5)

8:30 p.m. Eastern, NFL Network

Line: Falcons by 11

Great news, NFL Network: the Jaguars may no longer be television ratings poison. The Jaguars were responsible for the two lowest ”Monday Night Football” ratings of the season, but the Seahawks and the Rams managed to tunnel beneath them with this week’s cavalcade of blocked punts, hacky-sacked snaps and screen passes that hit the receiver’s knee on one bounce. The Jaguars also scored 41 points in their win over the Buccaneers, more than in their previous three games combined and more than twice their previous season high.

The Jaguars now have the potential to hold your attention. All it took was a change in coaching and ownership, a series of fumbled punts by the opponent and the kind of general lassitude that came when two teams (Seattle and St. Louis) with seven total wins faced off in mid-December.

Falcons Coach Mike Smith, a former Jaguars coordinator, was briefly hospitalized after Sunday’s victory over the Panthers with an undisclosed illness. Smith was back in Atlanta on Monday and will be on the sideline Thursday. Smith is from Daytona, Fla., and while he enjoys trips back to Jacksonville, playing at home cuts down on his ticket costs. ”It’s a little cheaper up here since I don’t have as many friends as I did in Jacksonville,” he said.

Smith’s Florida supporters can watch the game on television. The network needs the ratings.

Pick: Falcons

(Pick does not reflect the betting line)

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.


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THE FIFTH DOWN; Right Move, Wrong Play

Falcons Coach Mike Smith was criticized for his adventuresome fourth-down decision in overtime against the Saints. After initially deciding to punt from his 29 on fourth-and-inches, he had Michael Turner run up the middle. He was stuffed, and the Saints won soon after with a field goal.

Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats said Smith had played the percentages correctly based on Win Probability: ”The go-for-it option is worth, on net, a 0.47 W.P. That’s better than the 0.42 W.P. of the punt option, at least according to league-average percentages. I’m certain the fact that Drew Brees and the rest of the Saints offense is not league-average helped sway Mike Smith’s mental calculus.”

Andy Benoit, a Fifth Down contributor and CBSSports.com analyst, said the bigger problem was the play call: ”Why did Smith — or the offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey — elect to call a slow-developing handoff instead of a quarterback sneak? A handoff in a situation like this, when the defensive linemen and linebackers have no choice but to instantly fire into the gaps, puts the offensive players in reaction mode. When the ball finally starts traveling forward, it’s four yards behind the line. On a sneak, the ball starts traveling forward four inches behind the line. The difference between the two situations is significant.” (NYT)

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