When Atlanta Falcons’ and other NFL players ratified the new CBA, one thing stuck out. Starting next year, an extra team will be added to the playoff mix, meaning seven from each conference get in.
While that is great, for fringe teams, it raises the pressure for the Atlanta Falcons. Specifically Dan Quinn and his staff.
In the past two years, the Falcons finished as the number eight and number 10 team in the NFC, meaning even with the extra slot, they still would have missed the postseason. And for Arthur Blank and a team whose championship window is closing, another missed playoff just isn’t going to cut it.
If Dan Quinn is going to stick around, a seventh seed entrance into the playoffs isn’t going to be enough to save him. The Falcons need to be a division winner, meaning a top-four seed. Every meaningful game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been on the college level.
Last year, the Falcons finished the second half of the season with some inspiration. But even with the run, they made it would not have been enough as the games they lost would’ve hurt Atlanta when it came to tiebreak situations.
They lost every game but one to teams in the NFC West. And they opened the season with a crucial loss to the Minnesota Vikings. It’s usually AFC teams that give Quinn and his troops a hard time, but last year it was the NFC too.
Atlanta can’t afford to have that same record with more teams now vying for the third wild card position. And even though they knocked off both the 49ers and Saints on the road last year, Matt Ryan has only won one road playoff game in his career.
It’s safe to say the Falcons are a much better playoff team at home. That’s why home-field advantage is such an important thing to get. Dan Quinn knows it’s a deep run in the playoffs or bust.
Being the seventh seed is perfect for a young team who sneaks in. For the Falcons and their crew, they should view a seventh seed entrance in the playoffs as unacceptable. If Dan Quinn goes in with any mentality other than that, he will see his time in Atlanta come to a swift end.