There are many different ways the Falcons-Eagles game could turn out tomorrow, but there are only three potential outcomes. Two see the Falcons rolling on and facing a new opponent in the Conference Championship, while the last sees them going home. We don’t like that last one.
As an always useful reminder, though, here’s each of those scenarios and what they would mean for the Falcons.
Win and face the Vikings
A tough outcome, to be sure. The Vikings beat the Falcons in Atlanta earlier this season 14-9, playing stellar defense en route to a victory, and their defense hasn’t exactly gotten easier to deal with in the weeks since. The Falcons also have to go play this game in Minnesota.
The Vikings probably won’t have the same luck running the football they did the last time these two teams met, and Case Keenum seems like he might turn into a pumpkin at any moment. This is still a legitimately tough defense, though, and Keenum is working with some very difficult receiving options, including Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Chances are the Vikings would be able to score double digit points, and I’m worried that would be enough.
Still, I’d prefer the Vikings, because the Falcons almost pulled it off last time, and they are certainly playing better now than they were the last time these two teams met.
The irony, of course, is that if Atlanta wins here, they’ll be playing two consecutive games in Minnesota, since that’s where the Super Bowl is this year. I’m really hoping for that outcome.
Win and face the Saints
I am dreading exactly this outcome. A Falcons-Saints NFC Conference Championship Game would be amazing, pitting two rivals that genuinely hate one another in a cage match for the NFC title.
The Saints have turned this thing around so dramatically that I’m still a little astonished. Their defense has been at least average, and frequently much better than that, all season long. They’ve done that despite a raft of injuries, and their offense has been better than it has been in years thanks to Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas, among others. This is a dangerous football team, unfortunately, as we saw in two bare knuckle brawls between the Falcons and Saints this season.
On one hand, beating the Saints in the NFC Conference Championship would be one of the most amazing moments in team history. It would silence the Saints and their fans, catapult the Falcons to the Super Bowl, and run the team’s all-time record against New Orleans in the playoffs to 2-0. That would be a very sweet outcome.
If the Falcons lost to the Saints, though, life would be unbearable for a little while. Given that the Saints kept it close both times and won the last matchup in New Orleans, I’d be awfully wary about this one. Unlike Carolina, which fought its way to the playoffs but looked shaky many times during the season, New Orleans is not a joke.
Lose and face the offseason
This is, of course, the worst potential outcome. A loss here would not be shameful by any stretch of the imagination, but it would end the season just as the Falcons seemed to get going, and would leave them grappling with a long offseason.
The Falcons would be picking in the mid-to-late 20s, would be dealing with a long list of potential contract extensions and free agents (albeit not a lot of impact players on the latter end), and would be looking to get set to take the league by storm against a third place schedule in 2018. I’m beyond bullish on this team’s potential next year, but I’m not ready for this ride to end just yet, not after the 26-13 victory over the Rams showed us just how good this team can be.
What outcome are you betting on?