“We love the haters. The haters keep us going. So keep your hate coming. We love it. It makes us play with a chip on our shoulder” – Asante Samuel
Trick question: what was the biggest surprise of Week 15?
Was it the Seattle Seahawks winning on the road while scoring 50 points two weeks straight?
Was it Kirk Cousins leading the Washington Redskins into the playoffs with a big win over the pesky Cleveland Browns?
Was it the Adrian Peterson-fueled Minnesota Vikings taking over the second Wild Card?
Or was it the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons winning a game?
The trick answer is the Falcons, who brought down the New York Giants 34-0.
All year long, Atlanta’s detractors have pointed out that the Falcons have played a weak schedule. It is a true statement as the Falcons haven’t played a team with a winning schedule since week two. Their strength of schedule is .423, which is the weakest of any NFC with a winning record by a wide, wide margin. In comparison, the Vikings have the second weakest with .482.
That makes them paper tigers.
That makes them unchallenged.
That makes them having to prove something, despite being 11-2 going into the game.
If you’re a Falcons hater, the weak schedule gave you ammo to trash talk and … nothing else.
So, the rest of the league expected the Falcons to lose to the Giants. Surprise!
If you’re a Falcons fan, the weak schedule made you worried because you know that strong teams are forged through challenges. Strong swords are made with hotter fire. A weak schedule yields victories but not championship rings.
Luckily for Atlanta, it was just a matter of time before the tests started to come. And, as long as the Falcons win when they finally face a tough team then it won’t be a problem.
So, instead of being cocky, the Falcon faithful can be confident. Surprise!
The second half of the surprise of the win was who they beat. One weak after the New York Giants killed the New Orleans’ playoff hopes, the Falcons put the Giants’ season into jeopardy. And, this was the same Giants that held the Falcons to only two points in last season’s playoffs. And, the Giants were shutout completely. And, this was the same Giants that were fighting to hold off the Vikings, Redskins and Cowboys in the playoff race.
In short, this was a statement game. The Falcons just told the league and fans they are legit. So we all shouldn’t be surprised when it happens again.
Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/craveonlinesports.com.
Photo Credit: Getty