The New York Jets entered Sunday's matchup looking like they could have used one of Saturday’s Dr Pepper 100K Tuition Giveaway participants as a signal caller, while the Atlanta Falcons entered the matchup with three of their five victories coming against subpar NFC South opponents.
The game ended up going exactly as everybody expected it would. But even to those who expected the slopfest we got, the 13-8 final score was a point of intrigue.
After last season saw just three, the 2023 season has already produced seven final scores that had never before been seen in NFL history, and a final score of 13-8 certainly isn’t all that easy to come by.
However, it wasn’t the first such score in NFL history, and therefore it was not what fans have come to call a “Scorigami”. The only other game to end with a score of 13-8 took place back in 2011, when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals.
But the Bengals’ safety came at the end of the game because the 49ers designed it that way to try to run out the clock. The Jets’ safety came because the Falcons were playing terrible football. That said, there is reason for hope: both the 49ers and the Bengals did go onto the playoffs that year, with the 49ers getting all the way to the NFC Championship Game.
Falcons still deserve more respect than they're getting
Yes, even after a game in which they averaged 4.5 yards per pass attempt and 2.6 yards per rush and probably only managed to win because it happened to be against the Jets. Much has been made about the fact that the NFC South gets to “steal” a playoff spot from an actual contender, and to some extent, that’s probably true.
It’s hard to see any potential NFC South champion, Falcons included, opening up as something other than a double digit underdog in their home Wild Card playoff game against either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys. I’d set the spread at around 14.5.
But there are only four NFC teams with a winning record through 13 weeks, and the Falcons are sitting right there at 6-6. They are a division leader whose 6-6 record is tied for fifth best in the conference, and there are seven playoff spots. And oh-by-the-way, the Falcons beat another one of those 6-6 teams (Green Bay Packers).
So say what you want about the NFC South; the Falcons continue to win when it counts, and they continue to win the ugly ones that all teams, at some point, need to prove they know how to win.
Crucial divisional clashes at home against the 5-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, December 10) and on the road against the 5-7 New Orleans Saints (Sunday, January 7) await and will likely go a long way in determining which team gets to be that double-digit Wild Card home underdog against the Eagles or Cowboys.
There is just one team remaining on the Falcons’ schedule above .500, and that is the 7-5 Indianapolis Colts, whom they are scheduled to host on Sunday, December 24. They also play the 1-11 Carolina Panthers (Sunday, December 17) and the 4-8 Chicago Bears (Sunday, December 31), both on the road.