The NFL is a fickle beast; a teams fortunes can seemingly change on a whim from week to week. Case in point with the Falcons: After an incredibly frustrating home defeat to the Washington Commanders which had many feeling that they were in serious trouble moving forward, they now find themselves in first place in the division and with a catapult full of momentum following a victory in Tampa.
It wasn’t pretty, but Atlanta dominated the matchup against the Buccaneers, only letting their opponent hang around because of three red zone turnovers. Outside of those singular mistakes, it was the most complete game I’ve seen them play all season.
Now they encounter a Titans team that really needs something to go their way. They’re coming off a bye following three defeats in four matches and will be without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Titans in Week 8, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will move to 5-3 on the season, which would be their best record at the eight game mark since they had the same number of wins and losses in 2016.
While he would likely never admit it publicly, I’m sure that securing a victory against the Titans would mean something extra for Arthur Smith, who spent a full decade with that organization before taking the head coaching job in Atlanta in 2021. His former mentor and current Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel puts a 5-0 record coming off bye weeks on the line in this one as well.
Atlanta would consolidate first place in the division. With the Bucs suffering defeat on Thursday Night Football, the Birds would officially create 1.5 games of separation. They also could potentially move to a full 2.0 games above the Saints if New Orleans loses in Indianapolis this weekend.
After the Falcons won their first road game in over a calendar year last weekend, they would now win back to back road games for the first time since they cashed in victories in weeks 12 and 14 in 2021. They would also stay a step ahead of their NFC competition for a potential wildcard spot if it came to that.
If the Falcons lose
Then the fickleness of the NFL season would deal the Falcons a powerful left hook and throw them back onto the canvas. The victory against the Buccaneers was fantastic, but following it up with defeat against a Will Levis-led Titans would kill a lot of good energy established in that game.
They would still remain a half game ahead of Tampa Bay, but would at the same open the door for New Orleans to tie them atop the division. No matter what, however, they will come out of Week 8 in first place in the NFC South because they own the current tiebreaker over the Saints (division record).
In addition to the Saints, any of the Vikings, Rams or Commanders will potentially be able to tie the Falcons in the wildcard race if they win this weekend. Remember that Washington already owns the tiebreaker over Atlanta, but with tiebreakers the topic of the moment, I can say that the silver lining for the Birds will be that this would not be a conference defeat.
Atlanta’s road woes would continue, as their record away from home would fall to 1-3. They have one more road game than home games on the schedule for the rest of the season after this one.