What would be a “successful” end to the Atlanta Falcons season?

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Success in the NFL is relative; organizations have different goals each season. Even if they all say the same thing at the beginning of the year—that winning a championship is the only objective—the reality is much different. Despite the NFL being famous for its parity, there are really only 6-10 franchises in a position to win the Super Bowl each season, and the Falcons just weren’t one of them in 2022.

Entering the second season under the new regime, the rebuild was finally taking place. In Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith’s first offseason, the team offloaded some of the inherited bloated contracts, like Julio Jones. But the real change came the following offseason when the club traded longtime franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to the Colts; it signaled the official start of the rebuild. And the 2022 campaign has been filled with ups and downs.

At times, Arthur Smith looks like the next great play caller in the NFL, and the Falcons look like a more-than-competitive team. Other times, Smith looks green as a first-time head coach, and the team’s talent level shows its true colors. But coming into the season, many people thought Atlanta would hold a top-five draft pick by the end of the year. USA Today even so boldly predicted the Falcons to be the first team on the clock in the 2023 draft cycle.

To many, the club has already overachieved. They’ve eclipsed their Vegas preseason win total of 4.5 and still remain alive in the playoff hunt, thanks to playing in the worst division in football. The NFC South doesn’t boast a single team with a winning record, or even a .500 record. Whether the Falcons season has been successful thus far depends on who you ask, but for the most part, fans of the team would likely categorize it as a success.

The Falcons sit at 5-7 with five games left to play. In a perfect world, Atlanta runs the table, finishes with a 10-7 record and hosts a playoff game. With games left against the Steelers, Saints, Ravens, Cardinals, and Buccaneers, the odds of that happening are slim, but not impossible. In a worst-case scenario, the Falcons lose the rest of their games, finish with a 5-12 record, and are once again selecting in the top 10 of the draft.

Success is always relative, though, and expectations should always be tempered. So far, I’d say the Falcons have had a decently successful season, given the lack of talent and funds to fill voids. Depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, the team could enter the offseason on a high note and ride the momentum through free agency or crawl to the finish line, begging for the offseason.

Photographer: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire

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