FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Dan Quinn wouldn't go as far as saying the Falcons (4-5) are in must-win situations for the remainder of the season, but he did say that the only way for his team to stay in playoff contention is to handle the task immediately at hand.
"The only thing we can do about [the playoff] race is this week," Quinn told the media Wednesday. "If you try to look too far down the line I think you're going to miss what's right in front of you and how you have to go after it and attack it."
The Falcons are coming off a 28-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns that made plenty of people forget about the momentum Atlanta had built during its three-game win streak. Now, the Falcons are trying to play with the level of consistency they showed prior to the Browns game.
Their opponent for this weekend's game is in a similar situation. The Cowboys are also 4-5 and hoping to remain relevant as the second half of the season rolls along.
Dallas (4-5) is coming off a divisional victory against the Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) and remains alive in the NFC East. The addition of Amari Cooper seemingly opened up the Cowboys' offense a bit in their Sunday night win over the Eagles, but the X's and O's matchups are only half of the story for this weekend.
The winner of Sunday's game will be at .500. A tough climb will still be ahead for whichever team comes out on top, but there will still be a path forward. For the loser on Sunday, time will be running out quickly.
Quinn says his team will play with a high level of urgency, and he expects the Cowboys to play with nothing less.
"I think [our players] understand the urgency at hand to be right at our best," Quinn said. "And when you go up and you look at the matchups, OK, here's two teams that are 4-5, turnover differentials are close, explosive plays are close. It's one of those matchups that you look forward to, to say, 'Alright, man, this one's likely going to go right down to it.' Two teams that like to battle and fight for it, and both are in kind of the same circumstances. So we expect one hell of tough fight and I'm sure they're expecting the same."