Despite losing a few games and boasting a sub-.500 record, the Falcons still remain relevant. Atlanta has exceeded expectations thus far through the season. Remember the USA Today article predicting the Falcons to hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft? Or are Vegas oddsmakers setting the team’s win total at a measly 4.5 wins? Well, it’s still early in the season, but members of the media are finally coming around on the Dirty Birds.
Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic did a piece on which NFL sub-.500 teams can save their season before it’s too late with four tiers.
- Please breathe: Rams (2-3) and Bengals (2-3)
- Fixable, but there’s danger: Browns (2-3), Seahawks (2-3), Broncos (2-3), Patriots (2-3), Jaguars (2-3), Saints (2-3), and Falcons (2-3)
- Next year looks more fun: Texans (1-3-1), Raiders (1-4), Steelers (1-4), and Bears (2-3)
- Is everything ok: Panthers (1-4), Cardinals (2-3), Commanders (1-4), and Lions (1-4)
Here’s what Baumgardner had to say about the feisty Falcons:
Coach Arthur Smith complained that the same media who “buried” the Falcons in the spring would do so again after a Week 1 collapse against the Saints. Whatever you need to tell yourself to get things moving. Smith’s Falcons, ladies and gentlemen, are playing some football here.
That’s especially true up front, as Chris Lindstrom (circled in the clip below) and the offensive line have been outstanding in front of a dynamic rushing attack that does include Marcus Mariota. Atlanta’s QB has had turnover trouble (four picks, seven fumbles) and his accuracy has been shaky, but the run game has been outstanding. The Falcons have rushed for 823 yards on 5.1 yards per carry so far this season, which is enough to keep a team in just about any game.
Combine that run game with the work defensive coordinator Dean Pees has done with the likes of Grady Jarrett, Richie Grant, Casey Hayward Jr. and others, and Smith should at least be able to keep things interesting every week. The Falcons aren’t dead yet. But the quarterback, and Atlanta’s ability to consistently finish in crunch time, is still a concern.
The Falcons have a tough road ahead of them, hosting the 49ers this week and then traveling to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals the following week. However, it gets extremely favorable after that facing the Panthers twice, the Bears, Commanders, and Steelers in a span of six weeks. It’ll likely be the first time the Falcons are favored all year, and rightfully so; Atlanta should be sitting at seven wins with four games left to go.
This team has remained competitive despite being severe underdogs in two of their games, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. Even without Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Falcons somehow brought themselves within one score in the waning minutes last week, but an egregious roughing the passer call on Grady Jarrett negated any hope of a comeback. This team is playing far above their talent level, and a lot of the credit should be given to Arthur Smith for having his players believe in themselves and one another.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire