Nothing this week. The Falcons are standing pat because they have a pretty good idea of how they want to divvy up snaps the rest of the way, with no one out there that’s really worth adding unless more injuries pile up. That’s the depressing reality of this moment in Falconsdom, but at least they’re not out there chasing veterans when it’s not warranted and can focus on developmental opportunities for players who deserve them.
Austin Hooper is banged up, as is Logan Paulsen. Neither has been ruled out just yet, but it’s very possible the team will call up Jaeden Graham if both can’t go. Eric Saubert seems very likely to get his first true NFL start, and it’ll be worth watching him to see how he fares in the passing game, given his obvious athleticism. We were all hopeful Saubert would show us something this year, but his opportunities have been few and far between.
Matt Bryant is still dealing with a back injury, and it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll be 100% Sunday. I hate to even voice it—and I’ve been wrong about Bryant before, given that he’s still kicking well at his age—but we could be entering his final few games in Atlanta with Giorgio Tavecchio kicking around.
Julio Jones is sick, but germs are no match for him, so expect to see him Sunday.
What’s at stake?
Just dignity. The Falcons will not cop to wanting anything less than a 7-9 finish, but I suspect they’d take 5-11 soberly if it meant they got by a Cardinals team that is downright awful.
Draft position is also at stake. The Falcons aren’t tankers and won’t actively try to lose their remaining games, but losing to the Cardinals would put them on the fast track to a top three selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. If you, like me, believe this team is not all that far away from being a contender again with improved health and a solid free agent class, the prospect of adding a top three defensive lineman in this class to the roster is super appealing. I’ll be disgusted with Atlanta if they lose, just because a loss to the Cardinals will likely be pretty hard to watch, but at this stage of the season I won’t exactly be unhappy.
The Falcons should win this. When you put their roster side-by-side with Arizona, there’s only a small handful of spots where the Cardinals are actually more talented. The Falcons are just underachieving at an impressive level, having made a series of boneheaded in-game decisions and errors of execution that somehow are even worse than a year ago. If they can get their stuff together, even slightly, they should be favorites here.
Again, though, a win does very little except put one in the W column, end a pretty pathetic losing streak, and screw with Atlanta’s chances at a top 3-5 draft pick. I’d like to see some good Falcons football again, but there will be costs to victory as this strange, dumb season rolls on.
But yeah, expect them to win, and expect that to be the last time you hear it from me in 2018.