This Falcons team doesn't always pass the eye test. They often seem to be outplayed -- like against the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders -- yet find a way to win. They win games in the final seconds, like against the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And they beat their biggest division rivals this week in a sloppy, often inexplicable affair.
On Thursday night, the Falcons showed they can win games with their defense. On a night when Ryan threw for just 165 yards and had plenty of wayward passes, the Falcons picked off Drew Brees five times. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's unit gave up a lot of yards but buckled down in the red zone. The Falcons knocked down 12 passes with swarming pass coverage. They got a huge sack from John Abraham in the fourth quarter when the Saints were driving, only down by seven points. Yes, the Falcons got their share of luck.
At 11-1, the Falcons clearly aren't a perfect team. But they do have a perfect record at home. After this win over their most hated rivals, they should be playing at home through the NFC playoffs. That matters a lot more than any eye test.