The Falcons are in the midst of a season that could make you feel one of two polar opposite ways, and it is all dependent on your expectations from the beginning of the year. If you were optimistic about competing in the playoffs with this new regime, then you’re probably feeling some level of disappointment. If you thought just the opposite before the season, you’re most likely unsurprised by the Falcons’ up and down struggles.
It seems naive to oversimplify it like this; however, Atlanta has beaten the bad teams and struggled mightily against the good ones. Arthur Smith’s team has shown grit and toughness, evident in their proximity to the playoffs despite two 1-3 stretches this season.
It hasn’t been a pretty season by any means, but the only thing that matters is results. And Arthur Smith has his squad square in an extremely sloppy NFC wild-card picture. The Falcons are just one game out of the postseason as it stands right now due to a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)
2. Green Bay Packers (9-3)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3)
4. Dallas Cowboys (7-4)
5. Los Angeles Rams (7-4)
6. San Francisco 49ers (6-5)
7. Minnesota Vikings (5-6)
8. Atlanta Falcons (5-6)
9. New Orleans Saints (5-6)
10. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
11. Carolina Panthers (5-7)
12. Washington Football Team (4-6)
13. New York Giants (4-7)
14. Chicago Bears (4-7)
The Falcons have a difficult road ahead, which starts in Week 13 against the Buccaneers in Atlanta. Tom Brady and Tampa are coming off an impressive win over the Colts and have beaten playoff contenders like the Cowboys, Rams, and Patriots. But they’ve also suffered losses to the Washington Football Team and Saints. It’ll be quite the task to defeat the Bucs, but if the Falcons have any inclination to compete for a Wild Card spot, it starts with beating teams they probably shouldn’t.
However, if the Falcons fall to 5-7, hope shouldn’t be lost. The remaining schedule slots Atlanta against Carolina, New Orleans, and Detroit, which are all very winnable games. They’ll also match up against the 49ers and Bills, which will be more difficult games to win. With six games left, the Falcons could potentially get into the playoffs going 3-3 and finishing 8-9. This team’s struggles reveal how deficient this roster truly stands, but they’re still scratching and fighting for a playoff spot.
To begin the season, I felt the Falcons would finish 7-10 and miss the playoffs, which looks possible at this point. Still, I would consider that an improvement compared to last season.