Julio Jones, Falcons
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) during an NFL regular season football game against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 in Atlanta. The Falcons won, 20-17. (Ric Tapia via AP)

Atlanta Falcons, Colts both facing opportunity in even affair

The Atlanta Falcons could be the biggest beneficiary’s of Andrew Luck’s retirement.

The NFC South was supposed to belong to the New Orleans Saints. The AFC South was for the Houston Texans to lose. Suddenly, both divisions are very much up for grabs.

Drew Brees is sidelined for the next six weeks. As a result, the Saints are looking at the possibility of a losing record by the midseason point. The Carolina Panthers are also without their star quarterback in Cam Newton, who is still recovering from a foot injury sustained in the preseason. In Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers have Jameis Winston, but he remains the ultimate wild card.

 

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Translation? The Atlanta Falcons have a chance to make a run at winning the South and being a factor in the NFC.

Atlanta will meet the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon. There, they will see a team in a similar position.

Indianapolis was initially the divisional favorite before Andrew Luck stunned the world with his retirement in August. Once Luck stepped away, the mainstream belief said Jacoby Brissett is a good backup, a decent starter and likely the reason Indianapolis won’t reach the postseason. Not so fast.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to survive for a few months without their quarterback in Nick Foles, who broke his clavicle in the first quarter of the first game. In Tennessee, the Titans have quarterback problems galore with Marcus Mariota, while the Texans can’t figure out a way to block for theirs.

 

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All this leads to Sunday, where the Colts and Falcons — both 1-1 — have a chance to earn a quality win and move up in the standings. Indianapolis already has a road win within the division after beating Tennessee last weekend. Winning against the Falcons would be a boon, especially with the Oakland Raiders making a visit next week.

For the Falcons, going on the road and handling a good team would be a nice step towards returning to the postseason. Atlanta’s schedule has been brutal thus far, with a trip to face the Minnesota Vikings before hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. If the Falcons can emerge from their opening three-game gauntlet at 2-1, head coach Dan Quinn would be thrilled.

Yes, it’s Week 3. The loser is fine, and the winner isn’t guaranteed a divisional title. Still, it’s a golden opportunity for theses teams to put themselves in a nice spot with a win. Of all the games this weekend, it’s one of the most important for each side.

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