The Atlanta Falcons may not be playing this week, but some of their main rivals are. Although Atlanta is the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, that doesn’t mean other team’s losses won’t help Atlanta down the road.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the NFC teams fans of the Falcons should be pulling for Sunday and Monday. The question of why I chose this ranking is to answer one question, “How does Atlanta make it into the playoffs this year and what would the tiebreakers be?” Assuming Atlanta and the rest of the NFC all finish the season at 8-8, here is what Atlanta would want in order to qualify:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the New Orleans Saints 1pm
All three NFC South teams are playing this week. The problem is that Tampa Bay and New Orleans are playing each other. The Buccaneers have a better record than the Saints so go with New Orleans to have a tie for last-place in the division.
The Carolina Panthers at the Dallas Cowboys 1pm
This one is slightly deceptive. Root for the Panthers. While Carolina is in the same division as Atlanta there are two things to consider: Atlanta has already defeated Carolina this season (meaning the more wins Carolina gets the more impressive Atlanta’s victory over them appears) and the Cowboys have one more win than Carolina. While Dallas comes to play the Falcons for on November 4, mentally it’s better to know a team you can beat has beaten a common opponent of yours.
The Arizona Cardinals at the Minnesota Vikings 1pm
Take the Redbirds. Both teams are currently at 4-2 with Arizona losing its last two games. Starting out the season 4-0 made Arizona just one of three teams to be undefeated through Week 4. They’re good and when they come to Atlanta November 18, it’s better to defeat someone with a better record.
The Washington Redskins at the New York Giants 1pm
The ‘Skins are your choice for this one. Atlanta has already defeated them (with some impressive statistical numbers in the victory) and New York has a better record. It two gains for the price of one. New York will come to Atlanta on December 16.
Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams 1pm
You remember the playoffs two years ago? Remember what Aaron Rodgers did to the Falcons? Do you really want the Pack to win another game or do you want a team Atlanta can beat, take down Green Bay?
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Monday Night Football
Chicago has the better record so right off the bat you know to go for the Lions. The other reason to root for Motown is two of their better players, wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson (from Georgia Tech) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (from UGA) are playing and it’s always nice to see our former college athletes producing well in the NFL. Atlanta will travel to play Detroit on December 22, (assuming we’re all still here.)
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.