Call me a sore loser; call me a homer; call me whatever you want, but the truth lies in this article.
This Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints game will be forgotten about in mid-January.
The Falcons lost to the Saints in an ugly game—and that's being generous. It was a 17-14 game where both offenses struggled.
Yes, both defenses stepped up and made plays, but both offenses were anemic to say the least.
The bottom line is that in the grand scheme of things, this game means nothing. If you don't believe me look, at this stat regarding the last four Super Bowl-winning teams.
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They all have one thing in common: They have all lost at least one game in their final three weeks.
2006 Indianapolis Colts: Week 16 at Houston (27-24)
2007 New York Giants: Week 15 vs Washington (22-10) and Week 17 vs New England (38-35)
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 16 at Tennessee (31-14)
2009 New Orleans Saints: Week 15 vs Dallas (24-17), Week 16 vs Tampa Bay (20-17), and Week 17 (23-10)
All of these teams won the Super Bowl despite losing games in their final three weeks. The Falcons simply showed that they were human in that game.
That whole "coming into the playoffs with momentum" is an overused, overanalyzed misconception.
I am not trying to take anything away from what Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints did. What they did was impressive, but the truth is that come mid-January, the game will start at 0-0.
But to the main point that is trying to be made in this article is this was a game that really meant nothing. If the Falcons were going to lose a game, this was the one to lose.
A Week 16 loss means you can still make a run through the playoffs; a Divisional Round loss means that you have to wait until next year.
There is a strong chance that the Atlanta Falcons will play the New Orleans Saints in mid-January. This time, they will meet in a game that actually means something.
With the Falcons only needing to beat the Carolina Panthers at home to clinch the number one seed, the Saints will most likely end up with the fifth seed in the playoffs. If the Saints beat whatever team comes out of the NFC West and the three seed beats the six seed, we will have an Act III.
Who will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl
When there is an Act III, the first two acts are simply looked at as meaningless regular season games. Last time I checked, no team has won a playoff game because of what happened in the regular season.
Say what you want to about either team, but neither team in the first two match-ups has shown that they are a better team than the other one.
I am not saying that the Falcons are a sure-fire lock to beat the Saints come mid-January. I am just stating that come playoff time, the game will actual have concrete meaning and the result of that game will have no relationship to either regular season match-up.
It will be a game where the winner will go on, and the loser will go home. Now this is a game that has meaning.
But let's say this match-up doesn't happen. The Saints loss to the four seed or the six seed (most likely the Packers) upsets the three seed (either the Eagles or Bears).
This would cause the six seed to play the Falcons.
That still won't change the meaning of this game. Because come January 15th or 16th, the Atlanta Falcons will be hosting a playoff game (if they take care of business against the Panthers) in a game with concrete meaning.
A win or go home type game, the only type of true game that matters.
In a Potential Act III, Who Wins?
But before I close, I want to tell you, Atlanta Falcons fans, why it was actually a good thing that the Falcons lost this game.
For this, you are going to have to follow my long train of "what-ifs?"
I am not saying that a loss is ever good for a team, whoever says that is flat-out stupid.
But if the Falcons are going to lose a game, this is a game to lose, simply because they can still accomplish their goals even with a loss.
If the Falcons would have won they would have locked up the number one seed and clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This would have caused them, for all intensive purpose, to rest their starters for a good part of the Carolina game.
Offensively, it's actually good that the Falcons lost. They will have to actually have to prepare to beat Carolina, something that they wouldn't have needed to do had they won. I think that the Carolina game will be a game in which the Falcons are able to get their offense back on track, even if it is against the Panthers.
Now, if the Falcons would have won, even with how poorly their offense played, they essentially would have gone three weeks without a good offensive showing. This includes the Saints game, Panthers game and their first round bye.
If the Falcons want to make a serious run at the Lombardi Trophy, their offense will have to be effective. Being able to have a solid week of practice, for a game that means home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is something that this offense needs.
Now don't get me wrong, I think Atlanta is a team that can be beaten, the Saints just proved that.
But in the playoffs, it's a completely different story. It's written by the same authors, but it's actually means something.
Win or go home.
Atlanta Falcons fans stand strong, the Falcons are still a team that can do some damage this year.
Their Week 16 loss just proved their human, just like every other NFL team.
And guess what, two of these human NFL teams will be playing in the Dallas for the title of World Champion.
It's not like you have to be perfect to win it, you just need to go out and win three or four playoff games, regardless if you win eight or 16 games in the regular season.