This won’t come as any shock to anyone who has been following these dispatches, but I don’t think the Atlanta Falcons are very good. (Them being 4-7 has something to do with it.) For the past month, I’ve been operating under the assumption that the New Orleans Saints will straighten themselves out and win three in a row and that will be that. But now, the Saints having lost three home games in succession, I’ve reached another conclusion:
They’re not any good, either.
It’s not possible that nobody in the NFC South will win another game because this not-exactly-fearsome-foursome still has divisional dates remaining. (I guess every subsequent intradivision game could conceivably end in a 0-0 tie, but I’m not quite ready to make that leap of no faith.) In a post for ESPN Insider, Aaron Schatz writes that the NFC South champ has a seven percent chance of finishing with a winning record in Football Outsiders’ simulations; it has a 63 percent chance of finishing with a losing record.
But the Saints, who like the Falcons are 4-7 after those three home losses, next play at Pittsburgh, so that’s probably 4-8, and the Falcons’ next three games are against Arizona, Green Bay and Pittsburgh, so that could be 4-10. But here’s the thing: Even at 4-10, the Falcons wouldn’t be out of anything. Their final two games are against New Orleans and Carolina, and the only thing this team has done right is beat NFC South teams. (As we know, the Falcons are 0-7 versus the rest of the league.)
For the past month, I’ve kind of rolled my eyes when the Falcons spoke of making the playoffs. I’m not rolling my eyes anymore. Cringing at the thought of such sub-mediocrity getting rewarded, but not rolling my eyes.