Falcons, Mike Smith and winning big in NFL.

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The loss to New Orleans has raised lot of questions on ability of Falcons to put the games away and win big. The Falcons would need to improve across the board from play calling, execution and limiting mistakes to be a play off contender this year. However, the biggest knock on Mike Smith and the team has been inability to close out games with big leads and winning big. Is this a Falcons problem or is it harder in the NFL to win big and maintain big leads?

Winning Big 2008-2012 ( Points scored: 30 Points or more, Margin of Victory:10 or more points):

Rank
Team
Big Wins
Big win %
1New England Patriots3138.75
2New Orleans Saints2531.25
3San Diego Chargers2328.75
4Green Bay Packers2227.5
5Atlanta Falcons2025
  • As you can see from these numbers, New England Patriots have most big wins (31) in last five seasons. However, Tom Brady missed 2008 season after getting hurt in game one, the Patriots under Brady have won big in 27 games over last four seasons.
  • New Orleans Saints have second most big wins (30+ points and 10 point margin) with 31 in last five seasons. Chargers are third with 23 big wins followed by Packers (22) and Falcons (20) rounding of the top five.
  • In the era of Madden and fantasy football, the teams are expected to score lot of points and blow out other teams. This is easier said than done for most of the teams because of parity in the NFL. The Falcons can definitely improve on winning more games with bigger margin and scoring at least 30 points, however they are not very far behind other explosive teams like Packers and Saints.

 Putting the game away:

Rank
Team
Games ( Lead of 10+ at Half)
Games (margin< 10)
Final Margin (10+)%
Games Lost
Win %
1New England Patriots28775.00389.29
1San Diego Chargers28775.00389.29
1Atlanta Falcons28871.430100.00
4Philadelphia Eagles26580.77196.15
5Green Bay Packers26676.92292.31
6Houston Texans23960.87291.30
7New Orleans Saints22386.36195.45
  • The Patriots, Chargers and Falcons had a 10+ point lead in 28 games from 2008. The Falcons won 8 of those 28 games with a margin of less than 10 points. The Patriots and Chargers won four of those games with less than 10 points and lost three games after leading by 10 at half.
  • The Saints had maintained a 10 point margin in 86% of the games after leading by 10 or more at half time. The Eagles under Andy Reid also maintained the margin of 10 points in those games 80% of the time. This is not surprising as both Sean Payton and Andy Reid are aggressive offensive minded coaches.
  • The Falcons gave up a big half time lead in the play off game against SEA, but comparing to the past five years it was an exception than norm. The coaching staff and players need to make sure that, playoffs was an exception not a trend they want to continue.
  • The Falcons are the only team not to lose a game when leading by 10 or more at half time. The Falcons need to be aggressive, but at the same time find the right balance of being aggressive and protecting the lead to close the games out.

The Falcons need to improve on scoring consistently, maintaining and increasing leads by scoring ton of points. However, the perception of Falcons giving up leads and not winning games by scoring 30 or more points with a margin of double digits is far-fetched. The parity in NFL is real, unlike the college football where the match ups can be lopsided. The Falcons under Mike Smith are far from perfect, but there are not many teams who are perfect either who are winning big and comfortably every game.