The Atlanta Falcons are struggling mightily, and even in a putrid NFC, that's eventually going to cost you. With the Seahawks' bonkers win over the Steelers and their tiebreaker advantage over Atlanta, the Falcons have lost the sixth seed.
They can regain it, of course, if Seattle plays poorly and Atlanta gets their collective stuff together. That doesn't seem like a reasonable assumption at the moment, given the Falcons' ongoing inability to score more than 21 points in a football game, but stranger things have happened and will happen in the weeks ahead.
Even so, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the Falcons have blown it in major fashion, because that's precisely what they've done. In Dan Quinn's first year in Atlanta, this team got off to a roaring 5-0 start and was basically in control of its playoff destiny, and they've since gone 1-5 and lost their hold on the last playoff seed with five weeks to go. Just as no one expected this team to get off to their improbable undefeated start, no one expected them to fall apart to this extent.
With two games against the Panthers, one against the Bucs, one against the Saints and one against the Jaguars left, so it isn't out of the realm of possibility that they'll win 3 or 4 and make this thing happen. For now, though, I'm operating under the assumption that they're not going to make the playoffs, which makes you wonder what you're going to do as a fan with that knowledge.
What should we be rooting for?
I'm not going to tell anyone they have to root for the playoffs, if they're inclined to say forget it and push for draft position. I'm the kind of fan that always wants to see the Falcons win, regardless of the ramifications for their draft stock, but we all have to muddle through this season in our own way.
One thing we can universally agree upon, however, is that we want to see the Falcons play well. I've been running The Falcoholic for nine long years now, and while I can handle losses with some grumbling, they have never failed to wreck my Sundays when they play the kind of pitiful football they have for weeks now. New coaching staff or no, mixed bag of talent or not, it's tough to watch. To be confident in what 2016 is going to bring for Atlanta, I think most of us would like to or even need to see improvement from Vic Beasley, signs of Matt Ryan coming out of his slump instead of starting down a steep decline, and generally improved play across the board for Atlanta. I don't think we're expecting greatness at this juncture, but asking for improvement seems reasonable enough.
And that's what you're looking for from this team: Improvement so that they may contend sooner rather than later. What makes this stretch especially disappointing is that it has eroded our faith that this team is headed in the right direction, and with the team's new stadium and its accompanying PSLs arriving in 2017, that's not something anyone involved with the team wants.
What are you hoping to see?