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Could the Falcons move up in the NFC South this weekend?

Yes, by leapfrogging the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Falcons don’t even play this weekend, but as is the case with most bye weeks, what other teams in the division do could wind up having an impact on the Falcons. Could Atlanta climb up in the divisional standings even though they don’t have a game?

Short answer? Yes. Longer answer? Only one spot, though they could edge closer to the Panthers and Saints if things break another way than they did last weekend. Before we tackle our preview of NFC South games tomorrow, here’s what it would take for the Falcons to move up.

The Bucs lose

If the Buccaneers lose, which is something that seems well within the bounds of reason on the road against the Bengals, then Atlanta will be in third place in the NFC South for the first time in a while. That’s because while Tampa Bay’s record will be identical to Atlanta’s, they’ll have a worse divisional record (1-1 vs. Atlanta’s 2-1) and lost their head-to-head matchup with the Falcons earlier this season.

Obviously if you’re #TeamTank this isn’t what you want, because you want a higher draft pick and a last place schedule. With the Falcons clawing their way sort of back into the race already, though, I doubt they’ll stay in the basement much longer.

What other implications are there?

Both the Panthers and Saints have brutal matchups. The Panthers get to host a pissed-off Ravens team that lost to the Saints on Justin Tucker’s first missed extra point ever, while the Saints have to travel to face a Vikings team that memorably deep-sixed them in the playoffs last year. I like the Saints’ chances better than Carolina’s, but both teams could conceivably lose after coming very close to doing so in Week 7.

If Atlanta did get that lucky, they’d be coming out of the bye with a 3-4 record that would put them a single game behind Carolina (4-3 with a 0-1 divisional record, in this scenario) and two-plus games behind New Orleans (5-2, 1-1, with a win over Atlanta). The Falcons appeared dead in the water just a handful of weeks ago, but if everything breaks their way this weekend for once, all they’ll need to do is win a bunch of games to have a legitimate shot at breaking into the playoff picture as the season rolls on.

Something to root for, at least.