There wasn’t much drama at the Georgia Dome on Sunday.
The Falcons started their game with the Buccaneers knowing that they needed a win and a Lions loss to get the fifth seed in the NFC. They were up 21-0 less than 12 minutes into the game, all but taking care of their business and they put the pedal down once word came that the Lions couldn’t find a way past a Packers team without several starters.
It was 42-0 at one point in the second quarter and the Falcons started taking out starters so that they would be in the best possible shape for next week’s game with the NFC East champion. The production stopped at that point, making for a somewhat misleading but still lopsided 45-24 final score, but Mike Smith’s team did more than enough in the first 20-odd minutes to get themselves the fifth seed. That should be good for their chances of making it beyond the first round as either the Cowboys or the Giants make for a more beatable opponent than the Saints.
That doesn’t mean the Falcons are going to win, however. Their last four wins have come against teams with a combined record of 18-46 and they have just one victory over teams that will join them in the playoffs this season. There have been moments when Atlanta has looked like a good team, but they’ve also had stretches where they haven’t looked like a playoff contender so we can’t be sure exactly which team will show up next weekend. If they can be anywhere as impressive as they were against the Bucs in the first half, they’ll move on but the competition will be light years ahead of this Tampa team.
If there was any doubt about whether Raheem Morris should keep his job, it likely ended with the way the Bucs refused to show up and play in Week 17. They had a chance to be spoilers, but never put up a fight until after the Falcons had put the game out of reach. A new voice is needed in Tampa if they are going to recover any of the promise they showed in 2010. They looked like the John McKay expansion-era Bucs while losing 10 straight games to end the season, but at least those Bucs had a leader on the sideline. Morris hasn’t shown that he’s been doing much leading, which is why he’s probably going to be following the team from his couch soon enough.