The Falcons had a nice run of back to back victories that crashed to halt last week when they suffered defeat against a Carolina Panthers team. Unfortunately, that was a Panthers team that was absolutely reeling with four consecutive losses coming into that game.
The Birds served as Carolina’s “get right” game, and were unable to stop the run all afternoon in what was a very frustrating performance. They have yet to win a single game in Atlanta this year, falling to 0-3 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, even though their home record technically has a victory as a result of the game in London.
This week, the test gets even tougher as they travel to New Orleans to meet what will surely be a raucous crowd. The Saints just lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston for the season but are still coming off of an impressive victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move them to 5-2, nonetheless.
Let’s take a look at circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 9, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will move to 4-4 and back into the conversation within the playoff picture. They will be just one game back of the Saints and would actually move back ahead of the Panthers if Carolina suffers defeat against the Patriots this weekend.
The Vikings face the Ravens and the 49ers get the Cardinals (who may be without Kylar Murray), so Atlanta may find itself in the playoff picture as the last Wildcard spot with a victory and movement back to .500.
This will be the latest in the season in which the Birds would find themselves not under .500 since the 2017 season, when they were also 4-4 after eight games before suffering a losing streak.
More importantly than anything else, a win would mean success against the New Orleans Saints, something vital for the Falcons and their fanbase and something which they have been lacking over the years. The Birds have lost five of the past six games against New Orleans over the past three years, and could use a victory to boost the morale of their fanbase. We really need this for the trash talk.
Arthur Smith will find that there is no better shortcut to really endearing himself to the fans in Atlanta than to beat the Saints consistently. He’ll get off to a great start in doing that with a victory this weekend.
If the Falcons lose
Suddenly, talk about the playoffs, while very exciting and real for a brief period of time, will become more and more farfetched. The Falcons will have to begin investing full hope into the last Wildcard spot, and already a couple of steps back from it at 3-5, as the second Wildcard spot would be occupied by the 6-2 Buccaneers (the Saints would take over the division lead by way of tiebreaker). The Rams/Cardinals will be a potential one loss 5-seed.
Speaking of that last Wildcard spot, the Falcons will be in an absolute dogfight for it with six other teams whose current records range from 4-4 to 3-5. Their odds at a 3-5 mark of their own would not look good at all, especially since they have to travel to 6-1 Dallas next week.
Their record against the Saints in the Sean Payton era will fall to a pathetic 9-22, as the Saints will continue having Atlanta’s number. The all-time series lead for the Birds will fall to 53-52, and put the Saints in position to finally tie it all up come the season finale this year, after Atlanta was at one point 14 games better as early as the mid-2000s.