In heartbreaking fashion, the Falcons dropped their home game to the Cowboys. This Falcons team has been plagued by injuries this year, but have only not had a chance to win the game in the final minutes on two occasions. Their record could be much better and isn’t reflecting the talent of the team. Positive regression has to be coming soon. The Falcons playoff hopes aren’t totally dead yet. The NFC wildcard race is wide open, but Atlanta must win out if they want a shot at. Let’s jump in to what you need to know ahead of the Thanksgiving matchup against the Saints.
It isn’t a secret that Drew Brees is having a phenomenal season. Even though he has attempted 334 passes this season, only one of those balls has gotten intercepted. He is completing a scorching 76.9% of his passes. When targeting Michael Thomas this season Brees is completing 90% of his passes. Right now the only person favored over Brees in the MVP odds is Patrick Mahomes. I would not be surprised if Brees wins his first MVP this season. Atlanta will have a hard time slowing down Brees and company. If they want a chance in this game the offense needs to be firing at all cylinders and can’t get off to a slow start.
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Atlanta has suffered three losses this season in the final 30 seconds of regulation when they have either had a lead or were tied in the 4th quarter. That is tied with the Browns for most such losses in the league this season. Atlanta has lost 4 games this season coming on the final play of the game. The NFL is a game of inches. Unfortunately for Atlanta they haven’t had much luck this season in close games. If their offense can keep pace with the Saints this Thursday the game will likely come down to who has the ball on the final possession. Atlanta must execute and finish this game if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Many Falcons fans are probably hanging their hats up on Atlanta’s playoff hopes, rightfully so. However they aren’t completely out of it yet. Only 12 teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after starting 4-6. The most recent team to do it was the Packers in 2016. The Saints have surely ran away with the division, but the wildcard race is wide open.
If the season ended today the Vikings and the Panthers would secure the wildcard slots. The Vikings sit at 5-4-1 and the Panthers at 6-4. The only teams ahead of the Falcons in the hunt either have a 5-5, or 4-5-1 record. Atlanta needs a little luck on their side, but if this team can win out the playoffs are still in sight.
Dating back to 1995 teams starting 4-6 have just a 7% chance of making the playoffs. This wasn’t how I or any other Falcon’s fan imagined the season starting out. Several national media outlets had Atlanta as Super Bowl favorites. It is likely that Deion Jones will be back this week to play in his hometown of New Orleans. If Atlanta loses this week you can start researching mock drafts. Will they rise to the occasion?