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What if the Falcons win/lose against the New Orleans Saints (part 1)

Lose and we start looking at draft scenarios next week.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Well rested off a bye week, it’s getting to be do-or-die time for the Atlanta Falcons, who currently sit at 4-6 and have only the struggles of their division to thank for not already being dead in the water.

Next, they face the arch rival New Orleans Saints who currently sit atop the division at 5-5 and are coming off a bye week of their own. It’s always explosive whenever these two teams meet given the shared history and geographic proximity, but an extra layer is added when their matchup has actual division implications.

Atlanta lost three consecutive games (all against winnable opponents) heading into the bye week. Their margin for error is as small as its ever been this season.

Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Saints in Week 12, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.

If the Falcons win

Despite all of the recent struggles and season long turbulence, they will wake up on Monday morning in first place in the NFC South thanks to the tie-breaking procedures and will have beaten all three of their division opponents in each first meeting this season. The Saints will sit with them at 5-6, and the Bucs can potentially make that a three-way tie of the same record with a victory in Indianapolis.

Atlanta will also restore some order in terms of the head to head series matchup against the Saints, re-taking the overall lead at 55-54 after their opponents from the Bayou spent decades erasing the defecit.

A victory would go a long way in winning back some support for the current coaching staff, whom the fanbase does not seem to be on good terms with. It would also likely boost confidence and morale for Desmond Ridder, who was re-inserted into the starting quarterback role this week.

The algorithm of gives the Birds a 31% chance of making the playoffs currently. Victory increases those odds to 40% and they can go as high as 42% with a Bucs loss, as well.

If the Falcons lose

We can likely begin to pack in any hopes of a post season appearance. Mathematically, it would still be far from over, but in reality the Saints would open up a 2.0 game lead and be halfway toward owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. More importantly, Atlanta’s run of form at that point will do nothing to suggest that they will be resilient enough to make up that ground.

The Saints will take the series lead against the Falcons for the first time since they won the very first game ever played between these franchises, in 1967. The Falcons rattled off nine in a row to take a 9-1 lead and the franchise has never fallen below .500 against New Orleans since.

This will also signal the 10th head to head victory for the Saints in the past 12 meetings, and will put the Birds in danger of being swept for the third time in four seasons. Simply put, the enemies from New Orleans have owned this series in recent memory.’s algorithm would have the Falcons’ playoff chances dropping to a measly 16%, and down to 15% with a Bucs victory, which would also move them ahead of Atlanta into second in the division.