The Atlanta Falcons should get a boost by having an additional playoff spot available in the NFC this year. Here are five games they need to win in 2020.
2020 is a critical year for the Atlanta Falcons. After reaching the NFC playoffs in 2016 and 2017, Atlanta has gone 7-9 in back-to-back seasons under head coach Dan Quinn. While many people surely thought he was going to get fired mid-season after an abysmal 1-7 start, Atlanta rallied in the second half to finish 6-2. It was a marked improvement, but still an underwhelming season.
Atlanta has made key additions this offseason in both NFL free agency and in the 2020 NFL Draft. Though the Falcons lost some key players, they should be in position to at least contend for one of the three available Wild Card spots in the NFC this year. Atlanta plays in the best quarterbacked division in football, but has the talent to win double-digit games this season if it all goes right.
Should the Falcons be anything less than a .500 team, it will be the end of the line for Quinn, who will have wasted another year of Matt Ryan‘s prime if that is the case. Fortunately for the Falcons, there is a pathway for the Dirty Birds to win 9-10 games this year. Eleven or above is definitely pushing it, but Atlanta’s schedule is more navigable than you think.
Here are the five games Atlanta needs to win if they want to be a playoff team in 2020.
Home Mercedes-Benz Stadium
There will be a lot of significance to this game when the Seattle Seahawks come to town. This was the game last year where Ryan didn’t play and Matt Schaub filled in marvelously. It was quite the shootout, but the Dirty Birds came up short because the defense was still hot garbage before the bye. Atlanta would find itself after this home loss to Seattle, but it was too little, too late.
Fate would have it Quinn will get to face his NFL mentor Pete Carroll at home once again, hoping to beat his former boss and fight for a playoff spot. Even though this will be one of the few games where Ryan will be certainly at a quarterbacking deficiency, as he’ll be squaring off with Russell Wilson, Atlanta needs to find a way to win this one for multiple reasons.
This is the home game of the Falcons’ second-place schedule. Odds are Seattle will end up being one of the handful of teams Atlanta will battle for a playoff spot next year. Having the head-to-head tiebreaker would be huge, as would avenging last year’s frustrating loss. If this game were played in Seattle, Atlanta would have next to no chance of winning it, so take advantage here.
Another reason Atlanta needs to find a way to win this game is the Falcons have a brutal road schedule. They’ll be lucky to go 4-4 away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This will be the hardest home game Atlanta will play outside of the division. A win here should help the Dirty Birds get above .500 at home, possibly to a playoff-caliber home-record mark of 6-2 or even 7-1.