The Atlanta Falcons as a 2-seed sounds good, but playing starters in Week 17 may not be worth the risk of serious injury.
I’ll start by saying there’s no cop-out to the argument. The Atlanta Falcons don’t go into Week 17 thinking they’ll play starters, get a lead, and then start subbing in reserves. Dan Quinn is either fully committed to winning the 2-seed or he’s not at all. The New Orleans Saints certainly won’t come into the Georgia Dome and make things easy.
Atlanta’s roster is the currently the healthiest it’s been since mid-November.
The big argument against the Falcons playing to win the 2-seed on Sunday is the risk of serious injury. It’s an understandable concern. Atlanta’s roster is the currently the healthiest it’s been since mid-November. We won’t see Desmond Trufant anytime soon, but he remains the only serious injury as of late. Does Dan Quinn press his team’s luck in the final regular season game?
The Titans’ playoff hopes were shot when Marcus Mariota fractured his fibula last Saturday. The Raiders’ run to the Super Bowl is also now in doubt thanks to losing Derek Carr to a broken leg.
Could Matt Schaub step in and lead the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl? It’s not something fans want to think about, but it becomes a reality if something were to happen to Matt Ryan this Sunday. There hasn’t been much reason to fear for Ryan’s safety in 2016, but he was sacked four times last week.
It only takes one hit.
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The threat of concussions is always looming. Concussions kept Austin Hooper and De’Vondre Campbell out of action last week vs Carolina. Hopefully both players are able to return as soon as this Sunday, but what if they aren’t? Atlanta likely manages to continue getting the job done without either player, but there are areas in which they cannot afford any losses. The secondary immediately comes to mind, as does the offensive line.
The competition only gets stiffer as the Falcons head into the playoffs. The last thing Dan Quinn needs is any major changes to his personnel on either side of the ball. A first round bye sounds good, but a guaranteed healthy team as the 3-seed is even better. Atlanta would still play at home for the wildcard round and against a 6-seed that barely made the cut.
Momentum is another thing to consider. Given how the Falcons have played over the last few weeks, is a bye conducive to maintaining their momentum? It may be best for Dan Quinn’s team to maintain the same flow from now through the NFC Championship game.