I’d argue that the Falcons just won their biggest regular season game since 2017. Of course, with the second half of the past three regular seasons being completely meaningless, that was not the highest possible bar to clear.
A win in the Louisiana Superdome is always something that should be celebrated, no matter the circumstances. A win in New Orleans to put yourself in the playoff picture for the first time in four years exudes the best of vibes. That’s exactly what the Falcons did in Week 9, ensuring that the month of November will be a competitive one.
The difficult games don’t subside this week, as the test gets even tougher with a road game against the 6-2 NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys. Atlanta will be looking to avenge their Week 2 defeat against the Cowboys from last season, while the Cowboys will look for a bit of revenge on behalf of new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, whom Atlanta fired after Week 5 of last season.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
This is the third time I am writing it this season, but they will finally move their record to above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2017 regular season. Thus far they have had that opportunity in Week 1 against the Eagles and in Week 8 against the Panthers, in what ended up being their two worst games played of the season. Hopefully they can buck that trend in Dallas.
Atlanta will not only consolidate their spot in the playoff picture for at least another week, but they will actually move ahead of the Saints and into fifth place if New Orleans loses against the AFC’s top seeded Tennessee Titans, as a result of the head to head tiebreaker.
They’ll move to at least one full game above the playoff line if the Panthers lose to the NFC’s top seeded Arizona Cardinals, and they would have even more breathing room if the Vikings, Seahawks and 49ers each suffer their own defeats against very good teams (they play the Chargers, Packers and Rams, respectfully).
Tiebreaker scenarios are unlikely to be needed between the Falcons and Cowboys as Dallas has firm control of the NFC East at the moment, but in case the Eagles or Giants do make a run at the division and push Dallas into Wildcard territory, Atlanta would have the head to head tiebreaker in its back pocket.
The Birds would move to 4-3 against the Cowboys in the Matt Ryan era, and would move their road record to an impressive 4-1 this season. They already have more road victories this season than they had in all of 2020.
If the Falcons lose
Dallas’ all time record against Atlanta would improve to 19-11 and they will have beaten the Birds in a third consecutive meeting, with other victories coming in 2018 and 2020.
Atlanta would be booted out of the playoff picture with a victory by either the Panthers, Vikings, Seahawks or 49ers. They would have the same record as all of the three latter teams but their inner-conference record of 2-5 would ensure that they would come up short when looking at any current tie-breaker scenarios.
The Birds would fall to 0-3 in attempts to move above .500 at any point this season, and the earliest it could potentially happen would be in Week 12 against the Jaguars.
The team would travel back home reeling off of a defeat with a quick turnaround coming up in the form of a Thursday night game against the suddenly resurgent New England Patriots, who at the moment have won three straight games.