STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
The Falcons entered 2011 as one of the favorites to earn a first-round bye in the playoffs, as they were coming off a 13-3 season and had bolstered their offensive attack by moving up in the draft to select wideout Julio Jones. Unfortunately, the Falcons struggled to get in sync early in the year and stumbled to a 3-3 start. Although they couldn't catch the Saints for the division title, the Falcons won three of their final four games to clinch a Wild Card berth. With momentum headed into the postseason, Atlanta backers hoped that it would finally be the year that QB Matt Ryan and coach Mike Smith would add a playoff win to their resumes.
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