Just thought I would bring it up, since the Falcons front office just sent out notification for playoff tickets, which is really just a way to hoodwink season ticket holders. Is it really necessary to send out ‘invoices’ before Christmas? Before we even know if there is a home game in our future?
You have to pay if you want to reserve a seat, which at this point in the season is really a risky and expensive proposition.
The Falcons (6-4) are still on the outside of the playoff picture, chasing the Lions (7-3; Falcons own the head-to-head tie breaker) and Bears (7-3; Falcons screwed the pooch on the head-to-head tie breaker).
Right now the Falcons have a very manageable schedule:
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Vikings (2-8), at Texans (7-3), at Panthers (2-8), vs. Jaguars (3-7), at Saints (7-3), vs. Buccaneers (4-6)
I think the Falcons beat the Vikings, Jaguars, and Bucs, all at home. They should beat the Panthers on the road. The Texans are a ‘swing’ game; tough road trip, but ATL should have a chance. I think the Saints win at home. What does it mean? The Falcons have a shot to be 11-5 or 10-6. Will 10-6 be enough to get in the playoffs?
The Bears are in trouble with Cutler out, but if they manage to split their last six games (two of which are against the Packers), they will be 10-6 and as mentioned above, own the tie breaker against the Falcons.
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Raiders (6-4), vs. Chiefs (4-6), at Broncos (5-5), vs. Seahawks (4-6), at Packers (10-0), at Vikings (2-8)
So let’s call it a lapse against the Raiders, home wins against the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Vikings. I don’t see the Bears beating the Packers. Broncos are a huge swing game, but from a Falcons’ fan perspective, this schedule gets the Bears to at least 10-6, and maybe 11-5, which pretty much ruins ATL’s chances.
The Falcons have to be pulling for the Lions to go no better than .500 over their final six games, which includes the Saints (no way I can pull for the Saints), and the Packers twice.
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Packers (10-0), at Saints (7-3), vs. Vikings (2-8), at Raiders (6-4), vs. Chargers (4-6), at Packers (10-0)
The Lions have an interesting schedule. The only ‘sure’ win has to be the Vikings. If the Chargers have any spunk (or pride, or AFC West aspirations) in them, they can be dangerous matching any team score-for-score; however it is a home game for the Lions.
I see the Lions going 10-6, unless they somehow pull off an upset over the Saints and split against the Packers. If ATL is in the Wild Card hunt, the Saints could be my new best friend, however if the Falcons have a shot at the NFC South title (ATL at New Orleans Dec 26 on Monday Night Football), I am all in on the Lions bandwagon, as long as they end with the same record as the Falcons!
Much like the Falcons, the Giants at 6-4 are on the outside looking in at the Wild Card front runners and current NFC East division leader Dallas.
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Saints (7-3), vs. Packers (10-0), at Cowboys (6-4), vs. Redskins (3-7), at Jets (5-5), vs. Cowboys (6-4)
The Giants really can take charge of things by virtue of two games against the Cowboys. I do not expect the Giants to take down the Saints, but that would sure help the Falcons playoff hopes!
Speaking of the Cowboys (6-4), unless they mess up twice against the Giants, they should win the NFC East, avoiding any messy Wild Card scenarios.
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Dolphins (3-7), at Cardinals (3-7), vs. Giants (6-4), at Buccaneers (4-6), vs. Eagles (4-6), at Giants (6-4)
Wins over the Dolphins, Cardinals, Bucs, Eagles, and a split with the Giants puts Dallas at 11-5. I suppose it is possible for a slip up or two (Eagles, taking two on the chin against the Giants), but we can come back and look at that possibility a few weeks from now.
The Saints (7-3) are sitting pretty in the cat bird seat.
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Giants (6-4), vs. Lions (7-3), at Titans (5-5), at Vikings (2-8), vs. Falcons (6-4), vs. Panthers (2-8)
They have to like their chances to go at least 10-6, but more than likely they do a couple of games better and end up at 12-4, with a loss against the Falcons. I only pick the Falcons, not as a fan, but because it is a rivalry game, and ATL will be fighting for its playoff life, while the Saints may have complete control of the NFC South by Christmas.
What does it all mean?
The Falcons better go 11-5, winning the NFL South to make sure they get it, but for that to happen, the Saints have to slip up against two of three: Giants, Lions, Falcons. I don’t see the Falcons getting in on any tiebreakers against the Saints.