The Falcons enter the bye week on a three-game skid with the potential of losing a fourth to the Saints, which would effectively dash their hopes of a playoff berth. A lot is at stake for the club, Arthur Smith, and Desmond Ridder over the final seven games.
Let’s start with the easiest one — the team. The Falcons have a chance to end a five-year postseason drought and potentially host the first-ever playoff game in Mercedes Benz Stadium. That begins in Atlanta with a Week 12 contest against a division rival, but the season won’t be lost if they do lose.
The Falcons, as a team, have more to gain than just a postseason appearance. The club can still salvage the 2023 campaign if they end on a winning streak or with any kind of momentum, regardless of the playoffs.
Next, let’s move to the simplest — Desmond Ridder. He will be the starter for Week 12 and likely the rest of the season. He has a considerable amount riding on these final seven games. His career could be resurrected, or he could permanently be relegated to backup duties. The Falcons will only go as far as Ridder takes them, and he knows the only goal is to win football games. His future as a starting quarterback is on the line.
Finally, let’s get to the most complicated one — Arthur Smith. I don’t believe his job is on the line like his quarterback, but his future job security certainly depends on these next seven games.
If the season goes down the drain in any capacity, whether that’s internally or externally, Smith’s seat could begin to get warm heading into 2024. However, if the Falcons make the playoffs or end the season on a high note, Smith’s leash will be a bit longer.
After investing heavily in the roster this offseason, Arthur Blank is surely expecting better than 7-10, which is what Arthur Smith has posted in back-to-back seasons. Blank isn’t an impatient owner, but he’s also not getting any younger. There’s a lot on the line for everyone over the Falcons final seven games.
Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire