The Atlanta Falcons (7-4) dispatched NFC South rival Tampa Bay Sunday. With three wins in a row, ATL is now framed for a playoff picture.
Make no mistake about it. That Atlanta Falcons‘ win against Tampa Bay was a “must win”. A loss there would have meant three home losses to terrible teams this year. No team that loses at home to bad teams makes the playoffs. Just doesn’t happen. The win was a must for a number of reasons.
Let’s get this out of the way, and yes I will keep beating this drum, those losses to Miami and Buffalo are gawd-awful. There is just no excuse. Frankly, after those losses, this writer was close to writing this season off.
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There are only two ways to mitigate losses like those bad home losses: You can win away games, which is hard to do, or you win most of your division games, which is also hard to do. The Atlanta Falcons have done both in their path to the current 7-4 record. They will have to do a lot of both, in the coming weeks, to finish the regular season and advance to the playoffs.
3 of their last 5 games are at home. All three of those opponents, Minnesota, New Orleans, and Carolina are currently ahead of Atlanta in the playoff picture. N.O and Carolina are ahead of ATL in the NFC South rankings. That’s a tough slate against tough teams. But if you want to go to the playoffs, you have to win those games. Especially, since they splattered themselves against Miami and Buffalo.
The two remaining road games are divisional games against Tampa and New Orleans. Tampa needs to be a win, and if you know anything about Atlanta’s history, winning in New Orleans is a herculean task.
But, there Atlanta sits. Having won three games in a row, with five games left, and three of those at home, the Falcons realistically can get to 10-6 and could possibly get to 11-5. The former could be enough to make the playoffs, and the latter could be enough to win the NFC South Division in back to back years.
Has Atlanta fixed all of their issues that seemed unfixable earlier in the year? No. Do they look invincible going into the home stretch? Uhh, no. Do they still inexplicably blow leads late in games. Sigh, yes.
But the falcons have corrected course and do look much better. If they continue to fine tune and tune up, these next five weeks will be must see TV.