The Falcons have suddenly awakened after the bye week, and have continued terrorizing the NFC South as a result. After tallying a season-high six sacks against the Saints, the Falcons defense played even better against the Panthers last week — registering five sacks, forcing four turnovers (after they came into the game with just four all season), and allowing a season-low three points.
Next, the Falcons try to sweep the first half of their division schedule by defeating Tampa Bay at home. The Bucs have lost five of their last six behind poor defense and quarterback Jameis Winston’s struggles (he leads the NFL with 18 interceptions).
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 4-7? What if they lose and fall to 3-8?
If the Falcons win
It’ll be three wins in succession, and the team will be playing its best football, going into the Thanksgiving matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Dan Quinn will improve his very impressive record against the NFC South to 16-5 since 2016. For as horrendous as Quinn’s team has been against the entire AFC conference, they’ve made up for it by dominating the division over the years. That record includes five straight wins against Tampa Bay, which Atlanta can move to six on Sunday.
A win would also keep Atlanta’s meager playoff hopes alive for at least another week, as it wouldn’t be possible for the Saints to eliminate them from division contention just yet.
Looking at the tank movement, a win would potentially drop Atlanta out of a projected top 10 pick. It would also be a blow as Tampa Bay looks to be a direct competitor as far as draft pick status is concerned.
If the Falcons lose
They’ll continue disappointing home fans and season ticket holders, moving to 1-4 at home on the season. Momentum from the past two performances will be somewhat halted as the team regroups for that Thanksgiving rematch.
It will be Tampa Bay’s first win against the Falcons since the 2016 season opener, and would drop the Falcons back into the NFC South cellar that they just climbed out of (both Atlanta and Tampa are 3-7 but the Falcons own the division record tiebreaker).
Playoff hopes will all but mathematically evaporate. The possibility of a winning season will mathematically evaporate.
As far as the tank is concerned, a defeat would potentially move Atlanta from the eighth pick to the fifth pick (possibly tied for third, depending on other scorelines around the league).