It’s been a rough time for Atlanta-based sports teams facing off against opposing teams named the Cardinals of late. At 1-4, the Falcons head to Arizona for a minnow clash against the Cardinals, who are also a one-win football team thus far.
Kliff Kingsbury is coming off of his first ever win as a head coach in the NFL, and now he’d like to extend that taste of victory. The Falcons are grateful to finally get away from AFC opponents.
It’s that time of the week again — the game is less than 24 hours from kicking off, and football fever is nearing its weekly climax.
Let’s take a look at the hypotheticals of this game — what if the Falcons win and move their record to 2-4? What if they lose and fall to 1-5?
If the Falcons win
It’ll be a very rare bright spot in a dark season to this point. This game is the very definition of a must win, if the Falcons have any hope of salvaging their season.
This is maybe the easiest game left on the schedule for Atlanta. The Rams and Seahawks follow this one, the entire divisional slate is looming, the undefeated 49ers are in the distance, and Jacksonville’s intimidating defense isn’t too much further out. A win here is expected, but given the circumstances, I won’t really feel too good even if the Falcons make it out of Arizona at 2-4.
If Atlanta somehow finds a way to climb back into the Wildcard race (unlikely, I know), then moving to 2-1 against the NFC will help when it comes to tiebreaker purposes. A win would also help the team feel a lot better about itself after three consecutive abhorrent performances.
I won’t even begin to paint the division picture in this column this week, but a win would also momentarily stop the Saints from completely running away from the Birds. With the entire divisional schedule still coming up, Atlanta will have its say in the division race soon enough.
If the Falcons lose
The season is over. I won’t mince words here — this is do or die for Atlanta’s entire 2019 campaign and for Dan Quinn’s job, if we weren’t already there. I don’t think I’m being overdramatic when I say that. Of course, the season isn’t really over — there will still be 10 games left to play, but any real playoff hopes will go out the window.
Lose and you’re 1-5 with the best possible outcome being a 3-5 record going into the bye week, before you face a gauntlet of NFC South opponents. Oh, and that best case scenario will only be achieved if you beat the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks in back-to-back
This game wasn’t supposed to be one where Atlanta’s back was to the wall, but it is, and this team has no one but themselves to blame for it. Lose to the lowly Cardinals, and it’ll officially be draft watch season.
This column will also take up a different tone with another defeat, paying attention to the draft order in any given week as opposed to the Divisional and Wild Card races.