Root for the playoffs or the draft?

Fans of the Atlanta Falcons are in a dilemma. What do they do?

What should Falcons fans do? They once again are in a predicament. It’s not the first time.

Do they root for the team to win, so they can get closer to a possible playoff berth? Or do they come to the realization that regardless if the Falcons win the division, they’re unlikely to do anything special in the playoffs anyway?

In other words, do they just go ahead and root for the draft pick position?

Most fans chuckle when you reference the team as “the first place Atlanta Falcons.” Despite being in first place, this team is 4-7. In any other world, or any other division, this would be characterized as being a terrible season. The coach would certainly be on the hot seat.

But this team is tied for first place, holding the tie-breaker over the also-hideous New Orleans Saints, the team Atlanta beat in week one to open the season. And while the coach, Mike Smith, is on the hot seat, he might have already been fired if not for the fact his team is leading a bad division.

Can this get much worse? Well, yeah. Both the Falcons and the Saints could keep losing. They could struggle until they meet each other on December 21 in New Orleans.

The Falcons host the 9-2 Cardinals this Sunday in Atlanta. That will be difficult, even with Arizona having a backup quarterback (Drew Stanton) in for Carson Palmer. The Cardinals lost 19-3 to Seattle last week, so they’ll be ready to get back on track.

Then Atlanta travels to Green Bay, which will be a monumental challenge. The Packers look like one of the best teams in the NFC right now. The Falcons then return home to play Pittsburgh, a good team that will have a ton of fans in the Georgia Dome rooting them on. Then it’s the game in New Orleans, followed by the season finale at home against Carolina.

The Saints start the last five games of the season this Sunday at Pittsburgh. Then they host Carolina and then play at Chicago against the Bears before their home game against the Falcons. They finish up against the Bucs in Tampa Bay.

It is possible for both of these teams to go 2-2 in the games they have against other opponents, meaning the game in New Orleans next month could determine the division. But even if the Saints gain an advantage with a win on the same week as a Falcons loss, Atlanta could still get the advantage as long as they win in New Orleans.

But do fans root for this scenario to play out so the Falcons can make the postseason? It is a dilemma. If you’ve watched this team, you know it needs a lot of help, an infusion of talent in many areas. A higher draft pick could help tremendously.

So it is not an easy call. Most people just laugh when talking about how this team is in first place, but there’s no reason to believe New Orleans, with all of their problems, will get on a run and bolt ahead of the Falcons.

So what do you do? Root for the playoffs, or root for the draft pick?

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and e-mail him at

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