While going through the potential matchups for the Falcons in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, I was struck by how difficult the field really is. The Falcons could be matched up against the Saints or Packers after their bye week, and from there, they could face anyone from the Eagles, Packers, Bears, and Saints. There's not a single pushover in the bunch, even with the Falcons playing in the comfortable confines of the Georgia Dome, and you'll likely recall that the Saints and Eagles both beat Atlanta once and the Falcons barely squeezed by the Packers.
There's only one lesser option, and it's the Seahawks.
I know that there's supposed to be a gladiatorial streak in fans and teams. We're supposed to want to play the best of the best to prove ourselves, and I respect that line of thinking. At the same time, what I really want is the Falcons to get to the Super Bowl, and the best way to cross the first hurdle in that process is to play the worst team in the field. That's pretty handily the 'Hawks, the first 7-9 team to make the playoffs and one the Falcons beat like a drum out in Seattle.
Of course, to get there, they'll have to beat the Saints. Their only advantages are the fact that they've finally wised up enough to play Charlie Whitehurst instead of Matt Hasselbeck (maybe) and they're home, which means they can bring the full wrath of miserable Seattle weather to bear. Otherwise, this is a matchup that decidedly favors New Orleans.
All we can do as Falcons fans is temporarily root for the Seahawks with such force and vigor that we cause Drew Brees' passes to wobble into the arms of waiting Seattle cornerbacks, which I strongly endorse. With a win there and an Eagles win in the other NFC matchup, we can expect a second battle of the birds, and this time with a well-rested team at the Dome. I like those odds.
The other two possibilities? If the Eagles win and the Saints win, we're having a divisional rematch. If the Packers triumph over the Eagles, we'll get them, as they're the #6 seed and the Falcons draw the lowest. Like I said: Root for the Seahawks.