The Falcons sat atop the NFC South just a few weeks ago with their sights set on hosting the first playoff game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Now, fans are talking about Arthur Smith potentially losing his job.
The NFL is a fickle one, and your fortunes can change in an instant. Atlanta still has everything in front of them in a weak NFC and a weak division. The Wild Card isn’t out of the conversation and winning the NFC South is certainly not out of it either.
The Falcons will take the bye week to consider the quarterback position ahead of a pivotal Saints matchup at home. It’s as close to a must-win as you could get during this stage of the season. It will go a long way in determining Atlanta’s playoff chances.
ESPN’s Seth Walder took a look at the postseason landscape, and the Falcons clocked in with a 25% chance of making the playoffs and 22% of winning the NFC South, despite sitting at 2-0 in the division. “On the fringes of hope and despair” is the tier Walder put the club in.
The offense hasn’t been cutting it. Desmond Ridder ranked 25th in QBR before coach Arthur Smith finally switched to Taylor Heinicke. There’s little reason to believe Heinicke is a better option — he would have ranked 25th in QBR last season had he qualified.
There is one major factor working in the Falcons’ favor: the schedule. Not only have they played the league’s easiest schedule entering Week 10, per FPI, but they have the easiest one remaining. That might be enough to nab the 7-seed in the NFC.
The Falcons very well could grab the final seed in the NFC. As it stands today, they are two games out of that 7th seed but a lot can happen with seven games left to play. Arthur Smith isn’t coaching for his job at this point, but if the club misses the playoffs again, his seat could begin to warm in 2024.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire