Originally written December 03, 2012 on Fox Sports South:
For the second time in three seasons the Atlanta Falcons have captured the NFC South title and for the second time in three seasons they also have a chance to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in their conference. At this point, it would be an upset the Falcons (11-1) did not earn the top record in the NFC. They hold a 2-game lead over San Francisco (8-3-1) for the top mark in the conference and a three-game lead over Green Bay (8-4) for a first-round bye. Two more wins out of their four remaining will earn them the best record in the NFC and, right now, that seems like a good bet. On Sunday, they visit Carolina (3-9) before hosting the NFC East-leading New York Giants (7-4) the following Sunday. On Dec. 22, they visit Detroit (4-8), a team they beat last season on the road when the Lions made the playoffs, and then they finish at home against Tampa Bay (6-6). The biggest factor in earning home field would be avoiding having to play in cold weather in places like New York, Chicago or Green Bay. Players had different reactions on Twitter at the news, which became official when Denver defeated the Buccaneers 31-23 on Sunday evening. Among the most interesting was that of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who was a rookie when the team went 13-3 in 2010 and suffered a humiliating loss at home to Green Bay, a team the Falcons had defeated during the regular season but lost the second time around, 48-21. Weatherspoon tweeted: The last time we won the division I was too amp! This time it's just like... Ok, now lets accomplish the nxt goal! That is very much head coach Mike Smiths attitude, as the Falcons know they will be judged this season by their postseason performance, even if they finish 15-1. This will be Smiths fourth postseason appearance in his five seasons as the Falcons coach, yet Atlanta is still looking for its first playoff win under Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan. Perhaps thats why center Todd McClure, in his 13th season, took the occasion a little less seriously. Watching the Denver score and all I keep thinking about is Jim Mora saying "PLAYOFFS", McClure tweeted. But on a more serious note, he tweeted: Just the first step in a long journey. We still have a lot of work to do. hongry. In terms of a practical benefit, the Falcons will get a chance to rest some injured players or, at least, not rush them back into the lineup because they need to win games to make the playoffs. Chief among those injured players is starting left cornerback Asante Samuel. The four-time Pro-Bowler has an injured right shoulder and only played three snaps in Thursdays 23-13 win over New Orleans. On Friday, Smith referred to how Samuel knocked his shoulder while defending a deep route on the defenses third play from scrimmage, after which Samuel did not return. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry, who has started nine games this season, has missed the last two with a quad injury. Those two are the most seriously injured players. Numerous others have nagging injuries. Weatherspoon is still listed on the injury report with an ankle that caused him to miss three games and fellow starting linebacker Stephen Nicholas was limited last week in practice with a knee. Other players who were limited in practice last week because of injury were starting left tackle Sam Baker (groin), wide receiver Harry Douglas (ankle), back-up tight end Michael Palmer (back), defensive tackle Vance Walker (ribs), wide receiver Kevin Cone (groin) and reserve safety Charles Mitchell (calf). After playing on Thursday, Smith gave the players four days off, which he called a mini-bye. They will return to practice on Tuesday. Rest a couple of our guys that need to be rested, he said on Friday. It comes at an ideal time. Were starting the fourth quarter of the season. Gives us an opportunity to get some guys healthy.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Oakland Raiders fire Dennis Allen after 0-4 start

Did Roger Goodell’s bodyguard assault a photographer?

Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams engage in war of words

Georgia RB Todd Gurley falsely accused of punching student

Russell Westbrook: "I'm the best point guard" in NBA

Texas WR takes shot at Baylor ahead of big game

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jim Harbaugh: Deion Sanders' report is 'a bunch of crap'

Bills bench E.J. Manuel, Kyle Orton to start

Report: Jovan Belcher likely had CTE

Carmelo: Leaving NY would be hard after I 'forced my way here'

Twins fire Ron Gardenhire

Jon Lester on Wild Card start: That's why I'm here

Chiefs player penalized for praying after touchdown

Bill Belichick laughs off QB question...literally

Patriots fan fails with American flag face paint

Joe Fauria's new puppy is responsible for his ankle injury

LaRon Landry suspended four games for PED violation

NBA GMs on the hot seat

Rockets GM Daryl Morey fires back at Mark Cuban

The most and least improved hitters of 2014

WATCH: Tom Wilhelmsen dances to 'Turn Down for What'

Michigan student newspaper calls for Brady Hoke's firing

14 amazing stats from Week 4 in the NFL

What in the heck is going on with LeBron James' hairline?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Raiders fire Dennis Allen after 0-4 start

Chiefs player penalized for praying after TD

Did Roger Goodell’s bodyguard assault a photographer?

Kobe, Deron engage in war of words

Belichick laughs off QB question

Joe Fauria's puppy caused ankle injury

Texas WR takes shot at Baylor

Jim Harbaugh rips Deion Sanders' report

NBA GMs on the hot seat

Bills bench Manuel for Kyle Orton

The most and least improved hitters

Report: Jovan Belcher likely had CTE

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.