If you follow us on Twitter, you are well aware of how disappointed I was after the Falcons’ embarrassing loss to the Dallas Cowboys. I was so irate that I didn’t even want to hop on my computer and write about the game for a couple of days. However, it’s now Tuesday, and I am back on the bandwagon for a Week 3 matchup against the Chicago Bears.
We all know the saying, teams that start the season 0-2 in the NFL are typically doomed. You can pick a year to go back from, and the number of organizations that have been able to bounce back in time to make the playoffs is minimal. Since 2007, around 10% of playoff teams have made the postseason after starting 0-2, which spells trouble for the Falcons, who are coming off a devastating loss and are in one of the toughest divisions in football — at least on paper.
Most people outside of Atlanta are probably already counting the Falcons out, and to be honest, how can you blame them? However, given that the circumstances this year are much different than they have been in year’s past, it’s a massive overreaction to count the Falcons out this early in the season.
First off, the NFL will have an expanded 14-team playoff format for the first time in history. Seven teams from each conference will now make the postseason, with only one receiving a first-round bye. The other six will all compete in the Wild Card round, pitting three division winners against three Wild Card teams. That could open the door for a 9-7 or possibly even an 8-8 team to sneak into the playoffs, which are both easily reachable win numbers for the Falcons.
Secondly, Atlanta’s division isn’t off to a scorching start either. Like the Falcons, the Panthers are also 0-2 and just suffered a significant injury to their best player, Christian McCaffery.
Everybody’s offseason darling, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bounced back with a win over those lowly Panthers this past week after they were pummeled by the Saints to begin the season. It was a game Tom Brady and company probably felt like they had to have, but this isn’t a team that has looked like a Super Bowl contender in the early going. It’s evident it will take a little while for the Bucs to gel with all of their new pieces. At this point, they’d probably be happy with a 4-4 start.
Then there are those disgusting Saints, the media’s favorite pick each year to win the NFC. I have no doubt New Orleans will be just fine and win 10-11 games this season, but their loss last night to the Raiders certainly helped ease the pain of what the Falcons just went through.
It also can’t be ignored all the practice time each team missed due to the coronavirus. There were no preseason games, and rust was to be expected. We’ve seen that early on with the Falcons, especially defensively, but they’re not the only team still finding their rhythm.
There has been and will continue to be a lot of sorting itself over the first half of the season, but there really isn’t a reason for the Falcons’ players and coaches to be discouraged. Sure, last Sunday sucked as much as any game that I can remember (and that includes the Super Bowl), but everything is still right in front of this team.
With that being said, a win over the Bears this week is an absolute MUST. Because while 0-2 can be overcome, 0-4 cannot, and the Falcons are set to travel to Lambeau for a matchup with the Packers in Week 4. Atlanta needs to forget about what happened last week, as difficult as that might be, and take care of business at home against Chicago.