0

Falcons' silver lining
Bad record has team near No. 2 pick in draft

ATLANTA - A loss is surely not the way the Atlanta Falcons want to end their disappointing season.

But if Seattle beats them at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, the Falcons could get a consolation prize: a higher position in the next NFL draft.

A Falcons loss coupled with victories by St. Louis and the New York Jets will land them the second pick. All three teams are 3-12 heading into their final game of the season.

Tiebreaker rules would likely keep the Falcons from the No. 2 pick in the draft if Atlanta, St. Louis and New York all lose and finish with the same record, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The Miami Dolphins, 1-14 after their 28-7 loss to unbeaten New England, have wrapped up the No. 1 pick.

If next year's draft is top of mind, the worst thing the Falcons could do is win on Sunday. They could fall as far back as seventh in the draft, depending on the tiebreakers with the other current four-win teams - Oakland, Kansas City and Baltimore.

The No. 2 pick last season was Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson; Minnesota used the seventh pick to select running back Adrian Peterson, who's the likely NFL rookie of the year.

An ESPN analyst has Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long rated as the No. 2 player in the next draft and North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer rated seventh.

Draft position aside, the Falcons may just be thinking about going out on a positive note by ending their six-game losing streak.

Players are so beaten down emotionally and physically that interim coach Emmitt Thomas gave them the day before Christmas off.

Promoted to replace Bobby Petrino two weeks ago, Thomas told the team to focus on what went right against the Arizona Cardinals, who beat the Falcons in overtime in the team's most recent game.

SideBar: Seahawks at Falcons

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: Atlanta

TV/Radio: Fox, 92.9-FM