There’s mixed opinions and data out there regarding whether having a playoff bye actually helps teams navigate the postseason more successfully. We can engage with those more deeply in the days ahead, but for now, we’re going to outline one key benefit: This Falcons team will be healthy.
Dan Quinn said Wednesday that he hopes to have everyone back on the practice field next week. Considering Taylor Gabriel, Robert Alford, Austin Hooper, and others were dealing with injuries over the last week or so, the break is coming at exactly the right time to ensure this Falcons team is as healthy as possible.
Quinn: No concern about Alford's status. Falcons will limit some players this week & hope all will be full-strength next week. pic.twitter.com/GP02hPHWQL— Andrew Hirsh (@andrewhirsh) January 4, 2017
Health is critical for these Falcons, who thrive when their athletic defense is at full strength and their varied offense is bristling with all of its weapons. They’ve gotten by all year with Julio Jones missing a game here, Taylor Gabriel out a game there, and Tevin Coleman missing here and there, but they really can’t afford additional attrition on defense, and they’re not going to be facing any cupcake teams the rest of the way. Having all hands on deck on offense, in particular, should ensure that the Falcons can hang with even the best teams in the postseason.
We’re not going to see Desmond Trufant or Sean Weatherspoon returning to this team, but this is as close to full health as the team is likely to be. Now we get to see if a nearly full strength Falcons team can make the Super Bowl run we’re all starved for. As so many of you noted in response to yesterday’s playoff path post, the Falcons can’t control their opponents, so they just need to play well and keep the key players on the field.