While Sunday's game won't lock the Atlanta Falcons into a playoff spot it will give the team the inside track and make them the 4th seed in the NFC. Currently, the Falcons are 2-0 in their division and a game out of first place. The Saints are holding onto first and the Falcons will face them on Sunday to determine who leads the division.
Atlanta would have the same record, however, they would have the division record and the direct tiebreaker over New Orleans. If Arthur Smith's team drops yet another game they will then be two games out of the division and the season should clearly be over.
Sunday's game is monumental not only for Desmond Ridder who reclaims his starting spot but for Arthur Smith's Falcons. A loss to New Orleans gives Atlanta's hated division rival control over the division and will have this fanbase at a fever pitch ready for a change from the organization.
With a win, everything for Smith and this team changes moving forward. You finally beat your division rivals and give reason to believe this team can turn the corner. While Arthur Blank has given confidence in Arthur Smith moving forward there are reasons to believe that can quickly change.
One way it should quickly change is if Smith is given a better roster and finds a way to regress this season. In each of his first two seasons Smith has won seven games, anything but an improvement on that should get Arthur fired and have Atlanta looking for a new head coach and quarterback.
Losing to New Orleans isn't the end of the season with another game against the Saints and a terrible division. However, it makes it close to impossible for Atlanta to win barring the team winning out. This is a game that not only likely determines the fate of Atlanta's season but Arthur Smith's future with the team as well.