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The Atlanta Falcons are now atop the NFC Playoffs!

(from ajc.com Curtis Compton) Falcons HC Mike Smith getting a Gatorade bath. He will get used to them.

The Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers (2-14, worst record in the NFC and dead last in the NFC South) 31-10 earlier this afternoon at The Georgia Dome. The Falcons improve to 13-3, and won the NFC South with their win today. They have successfully gained home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye and the number 1 seed title. This is their first division championship since 2004. There has still not been a repeat (meaning back to back) winner of NFC South Division Champs since the division was aligned in 2002.

The best team in the NFC soundly beat the Panthers from the beginning of the game, as the Falcons started all first string players, including pro bowlers QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, RB Michael Turner, TE Tony Gonzalez, etc. From the first drive, the Falcons dominated with a 10 play over four minute drive in which they drove for over 70 yards for the first touchdown, a 6 yard pass from Ryan to Gonzalez. One more touchdown to Roddy White in the 2nd QT left Matt Ryan with a stat line of 22/32, 236 YARDS Passing, 2 TDs 0 INTs and a passer rating of 110.9. Pro Bowler Eric Weems returned a punt return for a touchdown, his first punt touchdown of the year, and he became the first Falcon to return both a punt return and a kick-off return for touchdowns in the same season. Michael Turner was 17 carries for 67 yards and 1 TD. The Falcons did fumble for loss for one turnover for the game, but the Carolina Panthers ineptitude on offense allowed them nothing in that gain. Most of the starters were pulled in the 3rd Quarter for 2nd teamers, most notably, Chris Redman taking over for Ryan. The Falcons finished 7-1 at home, best in the division with the New Orleans Saints losing at the Superdome to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

ajc.com image by curtis compton. Matt Ryan Celebrating after the win and clinching the division at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons will host their first playoff game in two weeks on Saturday night, according to NFLLabor.com, and it will be against the winner of the wildcard weekend game between the winner of the Seahawks/Rams v. the New Orleans Saints.

(stats and info used for this post cited from espn.com and ajc.com)

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