When the Atlanta Falcons meet the Los Angeles Rams tonight, they will either win or lose. That is the most obvious possible statement about the game, but even so, that simple statement is both accurate and carries significant meaning.
That’s because a win here puts the Falcons in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and one step closer to a second consecutive Super Bowl berth. A loss, meanwhile, has them dreaming ahead for draft picks and free agent signings to come. Let’s look at the consequences of both outcomes.
If the Falcons win
This punches their ticket for Philadelphia. The Eagles are the #1 seed, even if they look like a shaky one with Nick Foles helming the offense, and thus would be the matchup for the #6 Falcons regardless of what happens in Saints-Panthers. The winner of that other game will face the Minnesota Vikings. This is a winnable matchup for Atlanta, if they can make it that far.
If the Falcons lose
As best as I can figure, the Falcons will own the #22 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. They got Takk McKinley with the 26th pick a year ago after trading up, if you’ll recall.
The Falcons will also be grappling with a long list of free agents, though few true impact players, and will need to make some tough cap-related decisions for the likes of Andy Levitre and perhaps Brooks Reed. They should be able to keep their core together, and I wouldn’t be stunned if they brought back most of the roster, but there’s work ahead.