The Falcons could have been facing Matt Schaub this week with a secondary diluted further by an injury to cormerback Brent Grimes that will shelve him for a few weeks. Or even Matt Leinart. With either quarterback, they would take on the Houston Texans as underdogs.
It is the Falcons' great good fortune that, with Schaub and Leinart down for the count, their march to the playoffs resumes against a QB in his second game. T.J. Yates -- by, sweet concidience, an Atlantan who did not even play football in his junior year of high school -- did next to nothing in emergency reserve last month, essentially handing off throughout the second half to preserve a Texans' lead.
Houston's defensive turn-around -- a process in the works before this season and completed by new/old coordinator Wade Phillips -- had made the Texans a legit Super Bowl contender. Then their QBs started disappearing, and a reasonable goal should be merely to reach the playoffs.
Coming off three straight home games, the Falcons must adjust to strange surroundings and a hostile audience. Yet, with Yates likely operating with a thin playbook, they should keep the Texans in the teens.
Deal the Falcons a 20 and, like a smart blackjack player, they will stick and take their chances.