It wasn’t pretty - and Matt Ryan had his ugliest game of the season - but an ugly win still counts and the Falcons made sure they would be in the playoff conversation for another week. At 8-5, they control their own destiny and can still win the division, showing how important the win against the Saints truly was. Here are some key takeaways from the critical win.
Thursday night games are the devil
The NFL can say what they want, but Thursday night games are hurting the league. The short-week is leading to sloppy games that appear to be more injury riddled than the norm (though I have no stats to back that assertion up). This game was no exception.
Players have been very vocal about their hate for Thursday night games and rightfully so. Often, the teams are coming off a Sunday game and with as violent as this sport is, losing 3 days of recovery is unacceptable. While the Saints suffered the most injuries last night, the Falcons play on offense clearly suffered as well.
If the NFL really cared about its players, they would either scrap these games, limit them or have teams play them coming off of a bye week. As it stands, it’s brutal on the players and has resulted in some painful to watch games.
Long rest could be crucial
The Falcons won’t play a football game on the next two Sundays (their next game is on the road on Monday December 18th against the Bucs). That 10 days of rest will serve as a mini-bye that is coming at a key point of the season. This extended rest could be what the team needs to get everyone healthy right before a push in the playoffs. Considering the Falcons need to win out to win the division, having a healthy roster could be a huge factor going forward.
I hate Thursday night games, but this one could serve the team well.
Defense delivers again
While many fans lament the long drives this defense tend to give up at the worst times, they have been critical over the last several games, especially last night. Going against one of the better offenses in the league, they delivered when they needed to the most. Even though the Falcons had three turnovers on the evening, the defense only allowed 7 points off of them. They also had some critical sacks that came on third downs and who can forget the fantastic Deion Jones interception.
This is not a top-tier defense yet, but the talent is there. If they can continue to play like they did last night, this will be a team that is poised to make a run at the end of the season.