NEW YORK (AP) Comments on the Atlanta Falcons by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):
ATLANTA FALCONS (2)
Chris Berman (ESPN, 5) - Revving up like a team that expects to charge through the playoffs.
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 5) - You can be skeptical about the playoffs, but season has been superb.
Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 2)
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 4) - Like everybody else, curious to see what they do in the playoffs.
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 2) - After crushing the Giants at home, the Falcons do the same to Detroit on the road to earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. They've been here before, only to lose on the first try. Don't sense that'll be the case this time.
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 2) - The Falcons have transformed themselves from a running team into a passing one with the maturation of Matt Ryan this season. Atlanta ranks fifth in the NFL in passing with Ryan throwing for 4,481 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 2) - Everything now is just a dress rehearsal for what really matters: A playoff victory for Matt Ryan and Mike Smith.
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 2) - Mike Smith's balanced club has answered all the questions, except the postseason ones.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 1) - No team is more scrutinized than the Falcons. Until they win a few playoff games I could put them down at No. 6 and no one would say a thing. They have 13 wins and deserve regular season recognition.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 3)
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 2) - Issue the arrest warrant for Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Acquiring cornerback Asante Samuel (17 passes defensed, four interceptions) from Philadelphia for a seventh-round draft pick during the offseason was a steal.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 3) - It looks like Matt Ryan might be truly coming of age at the right time for the Falcons.