The good news: The Atlanta Falcons won’t have to leave town to qualify for the Super Bowl.
The bad news: They’ll have to beat Aaron Rodgers for the second time in 2 2/3 months to do it.
Historical note: The final game in the Georgia Dome will be for the NFC championship.
The sobering precedent: In the 2010 regular season, the Falcons beat the Packers in November in the Georgia Dome on a final scoring drive led by Matt Ryan and ended by Matt Bryant; come the playoffs, the Packers and Rodgers came here and won 48-21.
The sober voice of reason (or something close to it): The Packers just yielded 429 yards to Dallas, a team working behind a rookie quarterback, and saw the Cowboys override a 21-3 lead and forge a tie after trailing by 15 points through three quarters. If not for one final outrageous Rodgers throw, the game would have gone to overtime. (This not just is: Rodgers makes lots of outrageous throws; this one became an outrageous toe-drag catch by Jared Cook.)
We’ll have all week to consider the ramifications of the Packers’ victory in Arlington, but here’s my immediate thought: I still believe the easier path would have been to play Dallas down there for the NFC title, but it’s not as if the Falcons can’t beat the Packers here. They did it on Oct. 30, albeit by one point. As great as Rodgers is, he’s one man. The Falcons have the better team.