Perhaps Bachmann-Turner Overdrive summed it up best when Falcon fandom thinks of the next two games for the Falcons.
The Canadian rock band slammed down the hard facts about their workday – they were going to take care of business before the fun began! They were even going to be working overtime. They got the job done, no matter the task (random: here’s the Christmas reimagining of that song).
So, the Falcons must channel their inner Bachman-Turner Overdrive if they’re going to be making post-New Year’s Day plans.
The team, over the last month, has been playing great football. After the bye, the team thrashed three-fourths of the NFC West and came within an Eric Berry interception of beating the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs (proof that you really, indeed, just can’t win them all). Two of those blowout victories came without otherworldly WR Julio Jones in tow (*rimshot*) because of injury …to, y’know, his toe. It’s Christmas season, folks. Just politely giggle.
OLB/DE Vic “Beastly” Beasley Jr. has been on a tear. He’s the leader for sacks in the league right now with 14.5, having notched the most recent against the 49ers (who the team finally took care of business against for the first time since 2010 after losing three straight in gut-wrenching fashion). WR Taylor Gabriel continues to be the wavier gift that just keeps on giving. He’s had a touchdown in every Falcons game outside of Kansas City since the Green Bay win in late October. QB Matt Ryan continues to post up impressive numbers to support his MVP claim.
RB Devonta Freeman is fresh and hungry – he’s coming off a three-touchdown day against the Niners. RB Tevin Coleman is healthy and fresh for what’s to come. DE Adrian Clayborn, CB Jalen Collins and WR Mohamed Sanu Sr. are also healthy and ready to go for the next two games. Only TE Austin Hooper and OLB De’Vondre Campbell are nicked up at the moment, but both could be back by New Orleans.
Oh, so those next two games. Kinda important the Falcons close those out.
They end the year with a trip to Charlotte to take on the division-rival Panthers and a home stand against the super-division-rival Saints for the last regular season game in the Georgia Dome.
Some are already making travel plans for January, as if the Falcons have already put a bow on the division. If they do as they should and slam the door on Tampa Bay’s effort for a division title by winning Saturday, they’ll be good-to-go. If they don’t do that, the New Year’s Day game against New Orleans will be all the more important.
But, really, why make it hard on yourselves, Falcons? Why not beat two teams which you have every reason to beat? The Panthers and Saints have been alright this year – good and bad jumbled together into a relatively fine-but-underwhelming season. The Falcons have had a really good year. Why let two teams that don’t like you spoil your year and potentially keep you from enjoying January?
If the Falcons lose both games, they’re at the mercies of the rest of the league for either the division or a lower seed. Tampa Bay would have to lose both, and then the Lions would have to…
You know what? We can play Scenario City another day.
The Falcons don’t need to depend on mathematical equations, possible playoff breakdown television specials and special gifts from Santa Claus to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They just need to win.
If you win Sunday at Carolina, you win the division. You probably position yourself for the three seed. Life is easier. You win against New Orleans on New Year’s Day, you roll into the playoffs with even more momentum – a four-game win streak. You defeat both division rivals who have handed you plenty of embarrassment over the past few years.
It’s all about takin’ care of business for the Falcons. If they do, they can prepare their high-powered offense and improving defense (new, with pass rush!) for a visiting opponent in the Wild Card round (maaaaaybe even the two seed if Seattle loses to either Arizona or Los Angeles at home).
If they don’t, they’ll be forced to watch the Professor Frinks of the world determine the scientific odds of them making the post-season while on the win percentage of schedule strength divided by the circumference of conference play times the outcome of the Buffalo Bills coin flip of sudden overtime footballlaving-de-mork-in-hoven-haven.
In short, take care of business, Dirty Birds. The post-season depends on it.