We are still early in the NFL season but the Atlanta Falcons are exactly where they want to be. They are coming off of a critical win against NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers which gave them sole possession of first place in the division.
Now, they enter a stretch of winnable games and it could help them secure their first division title since the 2016 season. Last Sunday could prove to be the beginning of the turning point of the season.
Falcons can gain significant lead in NFC South over the next month
Winning your division is the easiest way to make the NFL playoffs. You immediately secure a spot in the postseason while also securing home-field advantage for at least the divisional round.
With how the NFC is shaping, the Falcons' only chance might be winning the division. It is obviously imperative that they don't mess around and stretch their lead to win the NFC South as soon as possible.
Fortunately for them, they are in a good stretch after winning a pivotal matchup against the Buccaneers. Here is who the three teams (Falcons, Saints, Buccaneers) will play before the Falcons as the Falcons enter their week 11 bye.
As you can see, the Falcons might have a slight edge in the weakness of their schedule. Tennessee is a game they have no excuses to lose, Minnesota will be tough considering how they have played recently, and Arizona has played every team tough but has struggled to put teams away when the Falcons have flourished.
Tampa Bay has a rough stretch with games against Buffalo (on TNF tonight) and San Francisco. New Orleans could certainly win all three of their matchups, provided that Derek Carr doesn't look absolutely horrendous again.
This really sets up a pivotal game in week 12 when the Falcons host the Saints. Last Sunday felt like the first turning point in the NFC South, while week 12 could be the second.
Think about it, the Falcons go into week 8 with one more win than the Saints. Let's say the Falcons win two of three before their bye week; that would put them as 6-4. Even if the Saints go 3-0, they would have the same record as the Falcons heading into their bye
That could mean, once again, that it will be a battle for sole possession of first place in the South. But even if the Saints are 5-5, they could take over the lead by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Anyways, the Falcons control their own destiny and that is all we can ask for right now. They have the upper hand and they must keep it that way by continuing to win.