After another heart-breaking loss at the last second on Sunday, the Falcons are now 1-6 on the season, which currently ties them for the second-worst record in the league behind only the lowly Jets. If the draft were tomorrow, they would be picking third.
1. Jets (0-7)
2. Jaguars (1-6)
3. Falcons (1-6)
4. Giants (1-6)
5. Dolphins (via Texans)
6. Vikings (1-5)
7. Bengals (1-5-1)
8. Cowboys (2-5)
9. Washington Football Team (2-5)
10. Chargers (2-4)
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) October 27, 2020
Now, I could make a compelling argument that the Falcons are easily the best team on that list. After all, with some competent coaching, they would be 4-3 and focusing on making the playoffs rather than draft order. However, that doesn’t matter, and while Atlanta may be better than everyone listed above — their schedule could keep them within the top-five picks by season’s end.
On paper the Falcons have a winnable matchup against the Panthers this Thursday night, but Carolina has been a scrappy and well-coached team each week. They are far from a free win and are rightfully favored by a field goal over Atlanta. The Falcons then have a very winnable game against the Broncos the following week, but after that, it’s a gauntlet the rest of the way.
The final seven games of the Falcons season feature two matchups with the Saints, two matchups with Bucs, and games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs — all teams that are .500 or better. The only team they face below .500 over that stretch is the Chargers, and they look to have a lot more life ever since Justin Herbert took over. I’m not saying the Falcons can’t win a couple of games against better opponents. It is the NFL, after all. However, it is not unfathomable that they could go 1-6 over this stretch and possibly even 0-7.
If that happens, the Falcons are looking at 12-13 losses this season, which should put them right around the top-five in terms of the draft order. I’m not encouraging the team to tank — I don’t think losing helps anybody on the current team develop. There is a chance that the Falcons are bad enough to actually lose this many games. They’ve already passed up some of their best chances to win against teams like the Cowboys, Panthers, and Lions. If they can’t find a way to beat Carolina on Thursday night, finishing within the top-five picks no longer seems so far-fetched.