I never go into a Falcons game hoping they’ll lose, but I was certainly resigned to the loss in this one. With the Falcons playing the defending champion Chiefs and a chance for Kansas City to lock up the top seed in the AFC, the only question was how bad it would be.
The Falcons stunned even optimistic souls by not just playing well against the Chiefs—that always seemed likely, at least in the first half—but by actually coming within a missed field goal attempt of making it to overtime against them. In the end, however, they still lost.
A couple of the very few things worth talking about when your season is over everywhere but the schedule is effort—we’ll talk more about that in the days to come, because this was an impressive one—and where your team is going to pick in the draft. Jaguars fans were ecstatic when their loss and a Jets win over a depleted Browns team ensured they’d have the #1 pick, and I have to imagine Falcons fans will be delighted to learn that Atlanta currently has the #4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
That position hardened with the Titans loss to the Packers, so the Falcons are indeed holding the 4th pick. It will take a Falcons loss and Texans win to move them to #3. That’s not a problem if the Dolphins hold on to the pick—they could get Penei Sewell to help keep Tua safe for the next decade or draft a top defender—but if they trade down there could be a three man run on quarterbacks at the top of the draft, which may or may not significantly impact Atlanta’s draft plans.
How, you ask? The loss to the Chiefs, coupled with a surprise Bengals win over the Texans and less shocking Panthers win over the Washington Football Team, vaulted Atlanta from #5 to #4 in the span of a week. If the Falcons lose against the Buccaneers again next week, they will have no worse than the 4th pick overall. If they win, depending on the fortunes of other teams in Week 17, they could pick anywhere from #4 to #11, per 92.9’s Mike Conti.
The Falcons, as we know by now, will not go into the final week intending to make things easy on their divisional rival, so it’s a little premature to start dreaming about any players in particular. For the moment, though, the Falcons are #4 for the first time ever, and there’s little doubt there will be compelling options in the draft for them to choose.