The Atlanta Falcons (9-6) end the regular season Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. After a few ups and downs, a win validates the 2017 season.
We know what is at stake today. If the Atlanta Falcons win, they are in the 2017 NFL Playoffs. We get it. They get it. Truly, this writer has no idea who will win. I could see Atlanta win. I could see them lose, and neither would surprise. What is known, however, is that a win in this game would validate what has been a perplexing season.
Let’s not pretend that the Super Bowl doesn’t still affect things. It does. The entire season has been a hangover season. Everything is just a little bit off.
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So, let’s start there. It is incredibly rare in NFL history, especially recent history, for a team to lose a Super Bowl and then make the playoffs the following year. It just doesn’t happen. To do that speaks to Dan Quinn as a Coach and the job his staff did. Even though the team has looked less than well-coached at times this season.
Next, and let’s just say it, 10 win seasons are still something to be cheered in Atlanta. Growing up, 10 wins was a dream season. When one combines point 1 with this last point, this season is rightfully validated as a success, regardless of what happens in the Wild Card game.
Then, there are the Divisional considerations. Atlanta will finish 3rd in the NFC South, in terms of overall record. But a win Sunday against Carolina guarantees a split with them on the season, a split with New Orleans, and a sweep of Tampa. That’s a winning Divisional record. That matters. A Loss would mean a losing record. That also matters.
It is true that the Atlanta Falcons can lose to Carolina and still make the NFL Playoffs. That would require a Seattle loss, but could happen.
My contention is that making the playoffs is nice, but a win Sunday carries with it all kinds of other positive things. This win matters more than just playoff considerations. It is a season defining game.