The Atlanta Falcons return home after a business trip up to New York last weekend, where they took care of business and orchestrated just their second winning streak of the season. Currently sitting at 6-6, the record is unimpressive in a vacuum, but it’s good enough to see the Birds grasp firm control of the NFC South.
Divisional play has been the primary catalyst to Atlanta staying afloat this season, as they have beaten each of their NFC South rivals and currently boast a 3-0 inter-divisional record.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers now come to town hoping to stave off a sweep and to keep their own hopes for a second consecutive division title alive. They come into this matchup in second place at 5-7.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Buccaneers in Week 14, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will guarantee yet another week in sole possession of first place, no matter what any other team (meaning the Saints) does this weekend. The Saints have a game against the Panthers where they’re favored, but if they were to lose the Falcons would simultaneously go two games clear while also clinching the tiebreaker over New Orleans.
As for the Bucs themselves, Atlanta would go two games clear of them and will take that tiebreaker as well by way of winning the head to head series. Tampa Bay will essentially need the Falcons to go winless down the stretch while going 3-1 themselves, or they will need to go undefeated while Atlanta goes 1-3 down the stretch to have a chance at the division.
The Falcons will achieve a record of above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2017, and will register their first three game winning streak since the end of the 2019 season. They will also re-take the lead in the head-to-head series against the Bucs with that mark deadlocked at 30-30 right now.
Atlanta’s playoff chances according to playoffodds.com currently sit at 66%. That number will shoot up to 85%, independent of other scores, with an 82% chance of winning the division.
If the Falcons lose
Then this division will become a chaotic three horse race with everything to play for and predictability at an all time low. Tampa Bay would guarantee a tie of first place, and a Saints victory would see three teams all sitting at 6-7. In this scenario, the Bucs would own the tiebreaker on account of the superior conference record over Atlanta, with both owning a 3-1 divisional mark.
While Tampa Bay’s upcoming schedule looks harder, the Falcons will have all of the pressure on them to not suffer a surprising defeat against the Panthers next week, as that is yet another divisional matchup.
The Bucs would also re-take the lead in the head-to-head matchup they achieved during the Tom Brady era and will avoid their first sweep at the hands of the Falcons since the 2018 season.
The Falcons’ playoff odds (according to playoffodds.com) would plummet from 66% to 42%, independent of other scores, with the chances of winning the division going down to 36%.