The Falcons are Going to be Fine (I Think)

Scott Cunningham

I'm not even close to ready to hit the panic button, and neither should you.

When a team that's projected to be a Super Bowl contender loses two of its first three games, people are naturally going to jump to ridiculous conclusions. Sports fans, in general, aren't the most rational, level-headed folks in the world; and if you need proof of that, just scour the Twittersphere around 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Look, I get why Falcons fans are worried. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned myself. But even though this team has stumbled out of the gate, I still think 2013 can be a hugely successful season. And I'm not the most optimistic guy in the world, so don't take this rant as some scotch-induced homer diatribe.

Truth is, a 1-2 record doesn't say much on its own. If you look at the 49ers, another team pegged to fight for the Lombardi Trophy, their 1-2 mark -- which stood prior to their win on Thursday -- warranted far more concern than Atlanta's. But Kaepernick and Co. got back on the horse in Week 4, earning a convincing win over St. Louis -- and all of the sudden everything is all sparkles and rainbows for them again.

Then there's the Patriots, who have played poorly (especially by their standards) against some bad teams, and yet they're 3-0. Would you rather have the Falcons roster with a 1-2 start or the Pats roster with a 3-0 start? Personally, I'd take the former.

Also, consider this: The last three Super Bowl Champions averaged just 9.67 wins during the regular season. Over the course of those campaigns, all those teams dealt with embarrassing losses, moments of doubt and overwhelming pessimism from fans and talking heads alike.

How quickly people forget the way Ravens fans were calling for Joe Flacco's head last year when the team started 2-2, falling to the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams.

How quickly people forget the sheer anger and malice that oozed from Giants fans when the team limped into the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2012.

How quickly people forget that the Packers started the 2011 season 2-2 after losing to the Cleveland Freakin' Browns and the Kansas City Freakin' Chiefs.

So the Falcons have their problems. They aren't converting in the red zone, their offensive line isn't doing well, blah blah blah. All three of the aforementioned teams had issues just as bad -- if not worse -- than Atlanta does right now. And everything turned out just fine for them.

The Falcons barely lost to a very good Saints team on the road and put up a bit of a stinker against the much-improved Dolphins. Big deal. It happens.

We all know Atlanta's 1-2 record doesn't reflect the team's ability. Not even close. This is a squad with an absolutely lethal offense (when healthy) and a defense that, by most accounts, is on the rise.

Let's say the Falcons beat the Pats this week and rattle off a few wins in a row. Then they play the Jets, Bucs, Cardinals, and Panthers in four consecutive games, so a nice little streak is not only possible, but likely.

All of the sudden, we're right back in the race.

If Atlanta gets into the playoffs as a wildcard but does so playing efficient, well-rounded football in the finals weeks of the regular season, anything is possible. Heck, I might even take that scenario over seeing them earn home field again by winning a bunch of ugly games by the skin of their teeth.

Momentum is everything in the NFL. Just ask Packers, Giants and Ravens fans. On paper, the Falcons have the ability to beat anyone in this league, and if they get healthy and start meshing the way we know they can, a Super Bowl run is not out of the question.

Recent history tells us good football teams can still win championships after mediocre starts, and there's absolutely no reason to believe Atlanta is an exception.

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