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Falcons focused on finishing strong


The Atlanta Falcons enter Sunday's game against the Panthers as the only NFC team to have already clinched their division.

"We like where we're at," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said in a conference call.

There's a lot to like about an 11-1 record and an NFC South crown, but the Falcons are intent on producing a strong finish with home-field advantage in the postseason at stake.

"It feels good (to win the division), but we still have four games to play," defensive end John Abraham said in a conference call. "We want to end on a good note."

Said Smith: "There's still a whole lot of football to be played, in terms of who is going to be playing in the second season and who is going to be playing where. Our focus is solely on continuing to win football games."

Through the first 13 weeks, Atlanta has had a knack for finding ways to win games, particularly close ones.

"We have a mature team and a lot of the guys are capable of being in those situations," Abraham said.

The Falcons have seven wins by a touchdown or less, including a last-second, 30-28 victory over the Panthers in Week 4.

"We talk about it all the time – games in the NFL are going to be one-score games. The majority of them are," Smith said. "I really believe the teams that are successful are the teams that are able to win in those situations and be efficient.

"It's something that we emphasize, knowing that more than likely, the games are going to come down to those situations. We are always talking about situational football."

Smith expects his team to face some difficult situations when they face the division-rival Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

"They've got a group up there that plays extremely hard," Smith said. "Our focus is not on home field advantage. It's on stopping the Panthers and finding ways to move the football." 

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