It is no secret that football is a tough sport. Even the grizzled veterans are waiting for a much needed break by midseason. The young players, especially rookies, are likely struggling with the work of a full season in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons have a number of very young contributors, including three rookie defensive "starters."
Can this explain the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles? The Falcons looked tired. They had just played 10 games in a row (14 if we are including preseason), and had a pretty long trip to the west coast. Were the players just mentally and physically exhausted from the grind?
They followed up a weak performance against the struggling Eagles by absolutely dismantling the Arizona Cardinals, previously the owners of the number on defense in the league. The team looked rested and on point. This was not the only issue that resulted in a loss to the Eagles, but the team went Jekyll and Hyde around the bye week, and the late bye week may have been just what the Falcons needed.
Are there any concerning games left in our lineup? The Falcons only have two away games left this season: a long trip to Los Angeles to play the Rams, and a short flight to Charlotte to play the Panthers on a short week. You wish they did not have another trip to the west coast, but that's the only worrisome trip that could add to player exhaustion.
It looked like a tough stretch before the season, but the Falcons may be ending the season with some easy games. They have great odds to make the playoffs, but this team may be better helped by securing a bye week.