The time every NFL fan dreads has arrived - the end of the season. It's a cold time - and for 31 teams, it begins the season of contemplation, planning and hoping. Fans debate what could have been and the larger picture of what it takes to win the big one. We look towards free agency for that "one missing piece" and towards the draft in hopes of finding the next big star.

In that light, I've been hearing a theme resound through the forums that has made me ponder its true merit. I've heard the sentiment that - to win it all - a team, or coach or player needs a "killer instinct." I've not only heard it uttered by Falcons fans, but also by fans of many of the other 30 teams who didn't win the big one this year. But what does it really mean? And in that definition, does it really matter as much as we've portrayed it to?

So, what does it mean to have a "killer instinct"? Based on the conversations I've seen, it contains the following thoughts: