Atlanta Falcons: 4 Desperate NFC Teams Loom Large on Schedule
The undefeated Atlanta Falcons sit comfortably atop the NFC South as they head into their bye week.
The Falcons' 6-0 record might be tops in the NFL, but four of those wins have come against AFC teams.
The meat of the 2012 schedule is still ahead for the Matt Ryan-led team. Games that will have direct playoff implications are on the horizon, and the Atlanta Falcons may find it a bumpy ride down Desperation Row.
The Atlanta Falcons learned a hard lesson against the Oakland Raiders: desperation is dangerous.
The Oakland Raiders played their best football of the season and almost upset the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. This may be a bad omen for the Falcons, as they will face four desperate teams in as many weeks.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Eagles may be under more pressure than any team in the NFL.
To further complicate matters, Atlanta radio station, 680 The Fan has reported that Michael Vick's contract has an opt-out clause. If he is released by the Eagles before February 2013, the Eagles will have no further financial obligations to Vick.
Philadelphia is already in the middle of a tight NFC East, and their 3-3 record actually puts them into the thick of things.
With a coach and quarterback under fire, the Eagles become a very desperate and very dangerous team.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Missed chances in the fourth quarter have cost them games this season, and their potential is being questioned around the league.
But like the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas is still in the hunt for the NFC East title.
In 2009, the Cowboys faced the Atlanta Falcons in Dallas. The Cowboys needed a statement game that year as well, and boy did they get it.
They ran roughshod over the Falcons and reinvigorated their playoff hopes.
In 2012, the Cowboys will be hoping to repeat that magic when they enter the Georgia Dome. They will need it, since they will face their division rival New York Giants the week prior and rival Philadelphia Eagles the week after.
New Orleans Saints
Harry How/Getty Images
The New Orleans Saints have seen better days.
Between offseason scandals and early season woes, they barely resemble the team that crushed Atlanta in the Superdome last year.
When the Atlanta Falcons travel to the Superdome in November, they will find a very desperate Saints team. The Saints already have a division loss and three conference losses. New Orleans will have a tough road before Atlanta arrives as they face Tampa Bay, a resurgent Denver Broncos, and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Not only will the Saints try to stay in the playoff picture, but will also hope to avoid being the victims of a revenge game; Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's passing record when the Falcons last visited New Orleans. New Orleans employed a pass heavy attack late in fourth quarter despite being ahead 45-16.
The Saints would prefer to stay on top of this sometimes ugly rivalry.
Norm Hall/Getty Images
The Arizona Cardinals are in a tight three-team chase for the NFC West crown.
Arizona's trip to the Georgia Dome will be of great importance to the Cardinals' playoff hopes.
It is a good possibility that the Arizona Cardinals will be in "must-win" mode by the time November 18th rolls around. They will be coming off a bye, and they will have to face the division rival St. Louis Rams the following week.