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Falcons vs. Panthers: where do the Falcons stand headed into their Week 14 matchup?

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Fact: Matt Ryan favorite song is “Jingle Bells”

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons and the Panthers are two bad football teams, desperate for some sort of silver lining that will make their disastrous seasons more palatable. Unfortunately, because professional football games aren’t just played for fun, one team will emerge from this contest the loser, and there’s a distinct possibility it’s the Falcons. That would do wonders for their draft position, but it’d also give the fan base additional anxiety about the future of the franchise.

Without further ado, let’s take a quick look at the state of the franchise headed into Week 14.

Injuries

Things are improving for the Falcons on the injury front. Both Julio Jones and Austin Hooper should play tomorrow, which ought to give the Panthers pause. Chris Lindstrom will also make his long-awaited return. Lindstrom needs to get all the regular season snaps he can get, and let’s be honest, both James Carpenter and Jamon Brown have been disappointments.

Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham were full participants in yesterday’s practice, meaning the Falcons suddenly have a tight end depth chart again. The offensive line is a slightly different story. Both Ty Sambrailo (hamstring) and James Carpenter (concussion) have been ruled out.

Matt Bosher (groin) and Sharrod Neasman (shoulder) are officially listed as “questionable.”

Standings

As you know, the Falcons have been frequently outplayed this season, hence their 3-9 record. They are dead last in the NFC South. The Panthers and the Buccaneers are tied for second place at 5-7. And the Saints are vying with the Seahawks and the 49ers for the number one overall playoff seed at 10-2.

The Falcons were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after last weekend’s loss, but let’s be honest, they’ve been out of playoff contention since well before the bye week. We’ve talked ad nauseum about the path forward, which remains less than clear.

Your thoughts, Falcoholics?