Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/3/12
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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker