FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Leading the NFC with a 10-1 record isn’t nearly enough to satisfy Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith.
His team is playing too many close games and still making too many mistakes for Smith to say that Atlanta is one of the NFL’s few elite teams.
He will only say that if the Falcons keep winning, they will put themselves in position to earn a top playoff seed.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez, the NFL’s No. 2 career-leading receiver, agrees with his coach. Atlanta just escaped with a 24-23 victory at Tampa Bay, which had won four straight and five of six, but Gonzalez knows the Falcons still have plenty to prove.
"Everyone was saying they were the hottest team in the NFC South, and they probably were," Gonzalez said. "To be honest, we could have played a little better, but when you win close games like that, it’s only a positive."
With just three days to prepare for Thursday night’s home game against New Orleans, the Falcons want to clean up inconsistencies in the running game, red-zone offense and pass rush.
The Saints (5-6) are coming off a 10-point home loss to San Francisco, but Atlanta has lost 11 of its last 13 matchups against New Orleans and quarterback Drew Brees.