With quick turnaround, Falcons need to get back on track for playoff push

Are the Falcons a playoff team? (0:55)

After a 14-9 loss to the Vikings, Jeff Saturday assesses where the Falcons are and if they are true contenders in the NFC. (0:55)

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons don't have time to dwell on what went wrong against the Minnesota Vikings. The schedule doesn't allow for it.

In most cases, "Tell the Truth Monday" would be all about dissecting the third-down woes, the silly penalties, the poor tackling and the missed scoring opportunities. But this Monday, the Falcons have to turn their immediate attention to the next opponent, with an NFC South showdown at home against rival New Orleans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium coming on Thursday night.

The Falcons, 7-5 and currently outside the six-team playoff race in the seventh spot right behind the 8-4 Carolina Panthers, are fighting for their playoff lives down the stretch. Two games against the 9-3, division-leading Saints could definitely help the cause. But the margin of error becomes slimmer and slimmer with each passing week.

The Falcons hold tiebreakers over wild-card contenders such as current No. 5 seed Seattle (8-4), Detroit (6-6), Green Bay (6-6) and Dallas (6-6). Plus, they haven't been eliminated from division-title contention and could make up a lot of ground by defeating the Saints twice over the next three games.

But after getting whipped at home by the Vikings -- something All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones warned they couldn't afford to do -- the Falcons have to be more concerned about what type of attitude they're going to bring to the field when they face the Saints. The fire certainly was missing, particularly from an offensive perspective.

The Falcons know they can't afford another single-digit scoring game after scoring just nine points against the Vikings. They know they can't afford to go 1-for-10 on third down against any defense the rest of the season. And they know the strategy of giving up the underneath stuff defensively won't work in their favor as much against a guy such as Drew Brees, who can pick anyone apart while putting 30 points on the scoreboard in the process.

Brees certainly will try to take advantage if the Falcons' secondary is still depleted, with Desmond Trufant (concussion) and Brian Poole (back) sidelined against the Vikings.

"They're playing really well, doing really well right now," nose tackle Grady Jarrett said of the Saints. "I mean, [Brees] is one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it, without a doubt. And they've got some really good running backs and good receivers. So it's definitely going to be a challenge. But we're looking forward to it.

"Everything we want, we just got to fight for it."

Quarterback Matt Ryan said something similar when he said "everything we want is still in front of us." But the Falcons are still a tad bit behind their 33.8 points-per-game rate of a year ago and have already lost as many games as they did in 2016.

We'll see if the Falcons, now 3-3 at home as they approach the last game of a three-game homestand, live by coach Dan Quinn's words and finish strong.