Lions help out the Atlanta Falcons in tight division race

Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

While the Atlanta Falcons were winning ugly in New York the Lions held off a Saints comeback to give Atlanta a bigger cushion. While they were technically tied with the Saints the Falcons held both tiebreakers. With the direct win over New Orleans, and the division record the team was in the lead despite having the same record.

Now the Falcons have a game lead with the Lions holding off the Saints. After jumping out to a 21-0 lead the Lions let the Saints roar back to within five but managed to get a late defensive stop winning 33-28. The fact the Saints hung with a top playoff contender as long as they did improves Atlanta's win from a week ago.

While they await the result of the Panthers and Bucs game the Falcons are promised at least a game lead over the Saints and Bucs. A Panthers win would give the Falcons a two-game lead over their division rival ahead of their final head-to-head matchup next week.

Atlanta is now fully in the driver's seat in the NFC South with New Orleans fading and Tampa clearly needing a rebuild post-Tom Brady.

As frustrating as Arthur Smith and Desmond Ridder have been the duo looks to have a clear path ahead of them to hosting a home playoff game. That alone should be enough to save Arthur Smith's job while it remains to be seen what this means for Ridder. For the Falcons to not make the change at quarterback Ridder will need a red-hot finish and a great playoff showing.

Anything short of that will have Atlanta looking to make an upgrade even if they do win the NFC South with Ridder as their starter. Atlanta will host Tampa Bay next week while the Saints will take on the one-win Panthers.