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Scoring 30 points per game does matter for Falcons

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- After quarterback Matt Ryan said before the season that the Atlanta Falcons absolutely could score 30 points per game, the team tried to downplay such talk.

The reality is the Falcons are the only team in the league averaging 30 or more points at 32.2 points per game. The 7-5 Falcons are 1-4 this season when they don't score 30 points.

Just imagine what their record would be had they converted a couple more red-zone opportunities in losses to the Seahawks (26-24), Chargers (33-30) and Chiefs (29-28).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Falcons' 386 total points not only lead the NFL, but are the most a team has ever scored through 12 games -- or even through 13 games.

"We always try to get into the end zone whenever we touch the ball," receiver Mohamed Sanu said of scoring at a 30-point clip. "We always know then that we have a better chance of winning."

Said Julio Jones, "It's great, especially that we're averaging that. It means that everybody's playing great ball and on the same page."

We'll see if the pace continues in the final four games of the season, with the Falcons facing three teams ranked in the bottom five in scoring defense: San Francisco (30.8 points per game), New Orleans (27.9) and Carolina (26.8).

The two teams that averaged 30 or more points last season -- Carolina (31.6) and Arizona (30.6) -- both made the playoffs and met in the NFC Championship Game, with the Panthers advancing to the Super Bowl before losing to the Denver Broncos.

During the last five seasons, all 10 teams that averaged 30-plus points during the regular season made the playoffs. However, none of those teams won the Super Bowl.

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has shrugged off the 30-point plateau all season.

"I really don't look at it until after the season," Shanahan said. "Each week, it's, 'What have you done for me lately?' Every Monday it's like, 'Man, we've got zero points right now. How are we going to get seven? How are we going to score on our first drive?' You're always pressing and trying to figure out how to get as much points as you can to win the game. You never sit back and relax and feel good about much.

"I've always felt that only one team, one coaching staff, one group of players is happy at the end of the season, and that's the team that wins the Super Bowl. That doesn't sound like a very happy life, but that's what we go for. Hopefully some day we can get to that point."