By Matthew Asher
With their 23-13 defeat of the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Atlanta has all but won the NFC South division. Now with an extended week until their Week 14 game against Carolina, this Sunday will not be spent watching the Falcons, but rather other teams that can help position Atlanta with the best record in the NFC.
Atlanta’s final four games appear to favor the Falcons in nearly every matchup. Atlanta faces their NFC South rivals Carolina and Tampa Bay in Weeks 14 and 17, respectively. Week 15 has the New York Giants coming to the Georgia Dome and Week 16 has the Falcons heading to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions. The Giants are the only team left in Atlanta’s schedule that currently has a playoff spot.
I wasn’t going to comment on this game, but with the recent news of the apparent murder-suicide of Kansas City Chief linebacker Jovan Belcher, I’m asking all fans of the NFL, not just Falcon Nation, to back Kansas City for a win. I know the Panthers have a better record than the Chiefs but even if that wasn’t the case, this is a game Kansas City needs. As we all remember when the September 11 attacks stopped sports for the week, it was very cathartic the following weeks when the sports world came back to life. Thank you.
With that being said, these are the rest of the teams teams Falcons fans should be pulling for for the remainder of the season, starting with the rest of Week 13. As mentioned in the Saints/Falcons game review, with a Denver Bronco win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, the Falcons will clinch the NFC South title. That’s a no-brainer so obviously root for Denver.
Regarding the NFC, Atlanta currently has the top ranking as the only NFC team with double digit wins so far. From second to sixth, the rest of the NFC is: San Francisco, Chicago, New York Giants, Green Bay and Seattle. Five of these teams will play Sunday during the 1 pm EST block so it may not be possible to watch every game, but this is why TiVo was invented.
The Seahawks and Bears will play each other this week in Chicago. Seattle is 6-5 so root for the underdogs to top the 8-3 Bears. The Vikings will play the Packers in Wisconsin. Again, root for the underdog Minnesota to defeat their NFC North rival.
The 49ers and Rams will face off in St. Louis. San Francisco may currently be the number two team in the NFC, but their Week 10 tie against the same Rams has put them in an unusual spot. A loss to the Rams or another tie paired with a Chicago win will mean the Bears retake the number two spot and more importantly, the bye-week in the NFL Playoffs.
The New York Giants and Washington Redskins will play in this week’s Monday Night Football game. Atlanta has already defeated Washington earlier this year so a Redskin victory over the defending Super Bowl champions will further help Atlanta’s position in the NFC. New York is the only team in the top 6 that Atlanta will have to play for the remainder of the season. If Washington can beat the Giants, it should also help the Falcons confidence when they face New York in Week 15.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.