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Patriots Clinch Playoff Berth, Falcons Almost In – SportsUntapped.com
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Added December 13th, 2010 by Chalk

Patriots Clinch Playoff Berth, Falcons Almost In
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On Sunday, the New England Patriots became the first NFL team to clinch a playoff spot this season, improving to 11-2 with an impressive 36-7 win over the Bears in snowy Chicago. The Patriots have won their last two games by a combined 81-10, and lead the league in scoring, averaging 32 points per game. In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons could clinch a playoff spot if the Vikings can beat the Giants on Monday in a game that’s been moved to Detroit because of an epic blizzard.

The Patriots are tied with the Falcons for the NFL’s best record, but neither team is ready to rest on its laurels after 13 games. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady stressed in a radio interview that New England is still a long way from reaching its goals:

There’s guys on the team that feel they’re part of something much more important than being 11-2. Look, as [offensive tackle Matt] Light likes to say, `This isn’t my first rodeo.’ … our goal is to keep getting better every week. Like last week, we were playing the Jets, but it really wasn’t the Super Bowl. It was an important game for the division lead and we played pretty good football. This was another important game in what we’re trying to accomplish to become a division champ. But we haven’t done anything. We really haven’t. I know everyone gets carried away at times, but it’s our jobs as players not to ride the roller coaster, the emotions of a long season. It’s our job to show up every day, to work, to practice and to prepare to play a good game every weekend. This team, for a young team, has been pretty focused and mature in doing that.

The Falcons, who coasted to a 31-10 win over the Panthers on Sunday, have their sights set on the NFC’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. “All the games are big now,” said Atlanta defensive end John Abraham. “All the games can put us in a good situation. We’ve got Seattle, then New Orleans and Carolina again. We want to have that home-field advantage and for us, we have to keep winning.”

Brady threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, and hasn’t thrown an interception since October 17, eight games and nearly two months ago. This season, he’s thrown 29 touchdowns against only four interceptions.

The Patriots face the Packers at home next Sunday, then finish at Buffalo and home against the Dolphins. They have a two-game lead over the Jets in the AFC East, and a one-game lead over the Steelers for best record in the conference, plus the tiebreaker since they beat the Steelers in Week 10.

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