The Tampa Bay Bucs continue to lose the Atlanta Falcons into the playoff conversation with Atlanta having a key chance to force a division tie this weekend. The Panthers and Falcons are both one game behind Tampa Bay with the Bucs having to face Joe Burrow’s Bengals this weekend in a matchup that undoubtedly favors the Bengals.
Atlanta has a far more winnable matchup against the 4-9 Saints who should be 3-10 on the season if not for a late collapse from the Falcons in week one. Rookie Desmond Ridder will feel an instant level of pressure stepping in to lead the offense against their most hated rival in a game with playoff implications.
After going 1-5 in their last six games the Falcons have zero business still being in the playoff hunt. They dropped games against Washington, Carolina, and Pittsburgh that were all extremely winnable with any competent level of quarterback play.
Tom Brady and the Bucs continued failure and struggles are the only reason that Atlanta is in any playoff conversation. Tampa clearly has a far superior roster to the Falcons and Panthers and yet either team could find themselves tied for the division lead come Monday morning.
This week is Atlanta’s best shot at catching Tampa in the final four weeks with the Ravens and Cardinals next up on the schedule before the season-ending tilt against Tom Brady. Catching Brady this week means the Falcons simply need to keep pace for the next two weeks to set up a division showdown in the final week of the season. A game that is looking increasingly winnable as the Tampa defense has struggled of late and Brady’s offense consistently looks lifeless.
Perhaps a game against the Falcons is exactly what the Bucs need to end the season and head into the playoffs, however, Atlanta has a rare chance to steal a home playoff game in a rebuilding season. A chance that likely ends this week if the Falcons can’t find a way to beat New Orleans and get revenge for their week one collapse.