Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

LIVE: Falcons (dead, but not dead) seek home win -- updated


UPDATED: 2:40 p.m.

Wide receiver Roddy White is among the Falcons' inactives with an ankle injury. Also out: defensive tackle Paul Soliai (non-injury related), cornerback Robert Alford (wrist), linebacker Tyler Starr, tackle Jonathan Scott, linebacker James Anderson and quarterback Sean Renfree.

This has been somewhat lost in this lost Falcons' season but do you realize it has been two and a half months since they won a real home game?

Between road games, a bye week, owner Arthur Blank selling a "home" game to London and the general misery, the Falcons haven't won a game in the Georgia Dome since Sept. 18 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Think back. They actually started the season winning their first two home games -- the opener against New Orleans in overtime being the other -- but since have lost consecutive Georgia Dome games to Chicago and Cleveland.

Mike Smith went 56-24 in his first five years (regular season only) but is 8-19 since. (AP)

That's kind of significant going into today's game against Arizona because three of the Falcons' five remaining games are at home and, as much as this team should be circling the drain at 4-7, it's still tied for first place in the toxic waste dump known as the NFC South (where the Falcons, New Orleans, Carolina and Tampa Bay have a combined record of 13-30-1). It's the first time in NFL history that a first-place team has a record three games under .500 and the South certainly figures to have the worst record for a playoff team since the 2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9).

The Falcons were one of the NFL's best home teams in the first five seasons under coach Mike Smith, going 33-7. But they're 5-7 at home since last season (not including the loss to Detroit in London) and their chances of making the playoffs hinge in part winning in Dome again. Their remaining home games: Arizona (9-2), Pittsburgh (7-4), Carolina (3-7-1).

The Falcons have not beat a team with a winning record all season. Their four wins have all come over South opponents (New Orleans, Carolina and Tampa Bay twice). Their seven losses have all come against non-South teams.

They are 0-4 against teams with winning records (Cincinnati, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland) and the next three opponents have winning records (Arizona, at Green Bay, Pittsburgh).

So how are you feeling about their playoff chances?

The analytics website Fivethirtyeight projects the Falcons to finish with 5.8 wins and 10.2 losses, second best in the South to New Orleans (6.8 wins, 9.2 losses). The site breaks down each team's chances of winning the South as: New Orleans 53 percent, the Falcons 23 percent, Carolina 24 percent and Tampa Bay less than one percent.

The Cardinals probably aren't as dominant a  team as their 9-2 record would suggest and they have lost quarterback Carson Palmer for the season. But as we've seen, it doesn't take much to beat this team.

Thoughts? I'll be here live blogging during the game.


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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.