It’s very simple. If the Falcons win in New Orleans, they’ll be in the driver’s seat to win the NFC South. If they lose, the season is over.
This is perhaps the most peculiar season in Falcons history. They are 5-9, so it hasn’t been a very good year. Yet with the bad play in the division, they still have a shot at making the playoffs and even having a home playoff game.
While the fans may be somewhat apathetic and skeptical, considering the records, the Falcons are not apologizing for the position they are in.
“We’re just glad we’re in the situation that we’re in,” said head coach Mike Smith. “We know what we have to do. I think it’s going to be a very interesting two weeks, not only for the NFC South but all across the NFL. That’s what the schedule makers want and they’ve done a hell of a job doing it.”
“We know the position now we’re in,” said quarterback Matt Ryan. “It’s the position you want to be in late in the year. You want to have a chance to continue to play, regardless of what your record is.”
Instead of two teams having double-digit win totals and battling for a playoff spot, like most other divisions. The Saints lead the Falcons by one game with a 6-8 record. Most everyone admits it’s as strange of a season they’ve been involved with while in Atlanta.
“Usually in our division, somebody wins 12 or 13 games,” said wide receiver Roddy White. “This year hasn’t been that way. We’re in a great position. I’m not going to complain what our position is in.”
It is almost perfect that these two teams would be in this position. The Falcons and the Saints hate each other. Players from the Saints are already mouthing off, with one saying the Falcons were coming to their funeral. The Falcons have tried to stay above the fray and not had much trash talk on their side. That probably is the perfect thing to do considering how many injuries they are dealing with.
But make no mistake about it, this is a rivalry game. Most of the NFL is learning year-to-year how heated these games are between the Falcons and the Saints. And even with both teams having losing records, with the division on the line, expect the same thing this week.
“It’s going to be a dog fight,” White said. “It’s always that way. It’s always been that way. Every time we go down there it’s been that way. They’ll be excited. If they win their last two games, they’re in. We’re at the same spot right now. We’ve got to go out there and be as excited as they are because we’re in the same position.”
“We know what’s in front of us,” explained Ryan. “We know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to win next week. We’ve got to have to have the best week of practice that we’ve had this year and prepare as best we can and then cut it loose when we go down to New Orleans.”
“That’s a great rivalry,” said Smith. “I can promise you this. There will be a lot of Atlanta Falcons down there in that dome. I have no doubt in my mind that there will be a lot. We’ll go down there and go compete against our arch-rival. We’ve talked about it for years. It’s hard to win on the road in this league. We’ve gone down there and done it before. That’s our intention – to go out there and do it again.”
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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