On Sunday, the Falcons rested. It was a day for their faithful to seek help, just in case.
Not that the Falcons need it – just yet. They are a proud bunch, we have been led to believe. They intend to win out and walk, heads up, backbones straight, through the front door reserved for conference champions.
But, well, things happen. Sometimes, the right people need to lose, too.
And if anyone would wish to stumble and grease the Falcons path to the playoffs in the process, then pride has to get in line behind expedience.
With their team on deck to play Monday night against Tampa Bay, Falcons fans were left to search Sunday’s results for any encouraging sign. Just in case.
Certainly nothing broke lose in their own division, but nothing in the NFC South is going to be easy. None of the top three teams is in a giving mood this season.
On the wildcard front, there was a bit of separation.
A look at some of Sunday’s games and their Falcon aftereffects:
New Orleans 31, New York Jets 19 – Nine days after losing to the Falcons, the Saints made it clear that they are not going anywhere.
Guess this isn’t the time to grab one’s throat and give Saints coach Sean Payton the choke sign in return. That would have been too wonderful.
Instead, the 10-4 Saints declared Sunday that if the 8-5 Falcons want the division, they are going to have come into New Orleans in a week and take it. No help forthcoming.
Carolina 31, Green Bay 24 – Any fear of Aaron Rodgers undergoing a miracle healing and leading the Packers to a wildcard invitation was put to rest Sunday.
The Green Bay quarterback likes to spell out things for his people, as when he told them to “R-E-L-A-X.”
Four letters out there for everyone in Packer-land, “O-V-E-R.”
Normally, you’d rather eat thistle than see Cam Newton and the Panthers win a game. But we’ll grade this at least somewhat helpful in clearing out wildcard clutter.
Los Angeles Rams 42, the team formerly known as Seattle 7 – With this rout, the Falcons got a little more secure in the wildcard standings. And Seattle, falling to 8-6, its heart removed at home Sunday, seems more certain to miss the postseason after five straight playoff appearances. All in all, good news here, three time zones away.
All we know for sure after another NFL Sunday is that the only thing certain is uncertainty. Clarity is in short supply, even as the Falcons prepare to play Game No. 14.
Injuries are spreading through the NFL like a fire through Southern Cal tinder. Where the next critical one strikes could violently swing fate one way or another.
Then there is the general equilibrium of the league. Thomas Friedman told us the world is flat, that the playing field of global commerce is greatly leveling. But the NFL is flat, too.
In such a setting, you accept any little scrap of help, whatever the source.
Still, if the Falcons win a game like they are supposed to Monday night, they will pass another week without needing to ask anyone for anything.