Sunday's match-up for the Washington Commanders has a lot riding on it. Sitting at 6-5 after a resurgence of form, Washington plays host to fellow NFC playoff chaser the Atlanta Falcons.
With the Commanders and Falcons on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, Sunday's game at FedEx Field potentially has significant implications. For head coach Ron Rivera, having a game with so much on the line is something he relishes.
"Giddy," Rivera said on how he feels about a huge playoff-implicating NFC showdown. "I mean, it's really cool. I mean, look at this right now. It's important because again, when you get this late into the season, you want that attention. You want that focus also because it keeps the players engaged. It keeps them tuned in. It'll be meaningful for us.
"We have a chance, and we can do something pretty, pretty cool if we can just stick with it," Rivera added.
Not many would have envisioned Rivera's team being in their current position. After starting 1-4, the Commanders, with Taylor Heinicke as the starting quarterback, have turned the corner and have rattled off five wins in six games.
In their way now is a Falcons team that, if given a chance, can cause serious problems.
"Well, I think first and foremost, I think [RB] Cordarrelle [Patterson] is a heck of a football player," Rivera said on the dangers Atlanta present. "He's a dynamic guy that we've got to account for. I think [QB Marcus] Mariota poses the threat of quarterback mobility, so we've got to be able to handle that as well. They are a very dynamic running team that we have to be able to contain and try to limit as much as possible just because they are a play-action team as well."
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The 5-6 Falcons have a chance to heap pressure on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the race for the NFC South title, while the Commanders will want to do the same to the New York Giants, who currently hold the sixth seed in the NFC.
Sunday's game has all the makings of an epic encounter. NFC and division implications with the Commanders aiming for their sixth win in seven games as they look to insert themselves into the playoff conversation.
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