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.
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.
•A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: This Georgia season was one big tease — AJC: Georgia ‘short takes’ on loss to Georgia Tech — AJC: LIVE: Georgia lost East but has tangible goals vs. Tech — MyAJC: As Georgia loses SEC title shot, Tech suddenly has higher ceiling — AJC: Missouri wins SEC East — will it affect Georgia? — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, toys devolve — AJC: Tech’s Johnson long overdue for contract extension — MyAJC: Tech’s season a loud response for Johnson’s critics — AJC: First-ballot thoughts: Smoltz should join Maddux, Glavine — AJC: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: Which team has had better season? — MyAJC: Gurley’s injury should prompt change in NFL draft rule — AJC: Weekend Predictions: The straight poop–Georgia wins SEC East, Falcons lose — AJC: Is Braves’ pursuit of Lester realistic? — AJC: Braves trade Jason Heyward and John Hart just took huge risk — MyAJC: It makes no sense but Falcons are in first — AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Panthers — MyAJC: Dogs have a statement win, now hope for best with Gurley — AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s win and Gurley — MyAJC: As hoops open, Tech looks far more ready than Georgia — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets cross bridge, Falcons back to normal — MyAJC: Ladies and gentlemen Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (in basketball, yes now) — AJC: If Georgia wins out, would it sway playoff committee? — MyAJC: All eyes are on Gurley (even if you can’t find him) — AJC: Hart should deal both Uptons and Gattis — MyAJC: Falcons’ division hopes hinge on beating teams other than Bucs — AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Tampa Bay — MyAJC: If Georgia Tech has come together, we’ll find out against Clemson, UGA