None. The Falcons are playing out the string, and they’ll move forward with what they have here at the very end of the year. There has not been a transaction since 12/18, and there likely won’t be one until after this game.
The Falcons are not super healthy, but of course, we’re so far into the season it hardly matters. Tevin Coleman and Julio Jones may be limited, Wes Schweitzer is out, and the team long ago parked a significant chunk of talent on injured reserve.
Coleman seems iffier than Julio at this point, but I’d expect both to suit up Sunday and put in work. Julio’s chasing the receiving yardage crown for the NFL and Coleman’s chasing a nice contract in free agency from a team like the Eagles, 49ers, Raiders, or Jets who could make use of his talent as a home run threat. If they’re limited or exit early, as seems likely, you can expect more run for Russell Gage, Marvin Hall and Justin Hardy at receiver, while Brian Hill figures to soak up carries at running back as he makes his case to return as Atlanta’s #3 back in 2019.
What’s at stake?
Draft position, mostly, and pride. Not to beat the same decaying horse I have been for the last couple of weeks, but there’s no playoffs to play for, no innate advantages to winning and making your schedule more difficult in 2019, and no real reason to risk getting anyone critically important to this team’s future hurt. These are cold, business-like considerations that frankly fans shouldn’t be in a position to be making or even mulling, but we’re here right now and we know that these are important considerations heading into a long offseason. Evaluation and caution, not winning, are needed, because a victory is not important.
I long for the days when victories will be important again.
I don’t rightly know if Atlanta is going to win this one. The Falcons are the better team than the Buccaneers, I firmly believe, but this is the final game of a lost season for both teams, and a divisional game at that. No result would really surprise me.
What is certain is that Atlanta’s going to go out there to try to win this one, not because they suddenly care now that it’s too late, but because that’s all they know how to do. I’ve argued before that Dan Quinn is excellent at keeping winning teams focused by emphasizing one game at a time, but the flip side of that is that the philosophy doesn’t die out when the team is bad, and thus the Falcons will treat this like any other game. Whether the Bucs, who are winding down the season and heading to an uncertain future, will do the same may well determine the outcome of this one.