That was as soul shattering a loss as I can remember. The NFL seems to have a framework for how to beat the Falcons: 1) Have a good defense, 2) Have 11 people on offense that are alive. There are some positives mixed in with this result. First, the Chiefs didn’t really stop us. I thought we did more stopping of ourselves than they did stopping us. Secondly, compare these two players:
Player A: 284/414 att 3624 Yds 27 TD 7 INT
Player B: 331/488 att 3370 Yds 26 TD 7 INT
Player A is Matt Ryan. Not bad, right? Now, who’s Player B? Derek Carr? No. Tom Brady? No. Aaron Rodgers? No. Drew Brees? No. Andrew Luck? No.
No, my friends, Player B is every quarterback the Falcons have faced combined. Yes, Matt Ryan’s great season is being replicated by all 11 quarterbacks the Falcons have faced. You can say what you want about the offense screwing up or special teams or Matt Ryan’s bonehead throw, but as long as the Falcons defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks of all skill levels to replicate their All-Pro quarterback’s season, they will never win a Super Bowl. Sorry, folks.
It’s funny, many people were fine with the Falcons having a 10-6 record this year (ecstatic, even), yet to get there, that means the team has to drop 6 games. For the record, I still think this team finishes with that record. If we’re going to lose 6 games, losing one to a 7-3 team that has a very good defense is not the end of the world. The fashion in which they lost was frustrating, but at the same time, the offense still managed to put up 28 points in spite of turnovers and losing their starting left tackle. It shows this offense is still capable of putting up big points, but it doubles-down on the fact that they have to score 30+ to win most of these games. Our defense is still a mess and there were several debatable calls, but this was not a loss that should “end the season” in the minds of fans. It was just frustrating.
If Atlanta doesn’t make the playoffs, they’ll look to this loss and the Week 7 loss to the San Diego Chargers — both games they should’ve won. The loss also cemented what we already know: Matt Ryan and the offense have to be damn near perfect because the defense probably won’t do them any favors. Still, the playoffs seem likely with the Rams, 49ers, Panthers and Saints left to go, but I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion they’ll make it to the postseason.
The only time I’ve been mad at the team after a loss this year was the first Tampa Bay game. The effort appeared lacking and the team looked a mess. A few losses were disappointing, with some poor plays that resulted in losses, but the team otherwise looked competent. This is another in the disappointing category. Falcons put up 28 points on an elite defense despite injuries to Julio Jones and Jake Matthews. The defense didn’t allow a point the last 35 minutes of the game. That is typically a recipe for success, but two poor throws (one at the most inopportune time possible), and a major special teams blunder sealed it. If any of those usual plays don’t happen, people are talking about Atlanta as a contender. So I’m back to disappointed but otherwise cautiously optimistic about the team.
A month or so ago I predicted the Falcons to split the games with Arizona and Kansas City, simply due to the matchups between those two teams and the Falcons, but it is still more difficult than I thought to watch this team lose a game like that. A game where you feel like they should have won but also somehow feel lucky to have even been in the game, and, more than anything, a game that shows you how much the Falcons have to do in order to become serious contenders. Just like Kendall said above me, as well as Matt: this team is not at the point where they can win consistently because they aren’t good enough on defense yet. The offense has absolutely zero margin for error. I think the Falcons are still much better from last year, but they aren’t anywhere near where they need to be in order to win a Super Bowl. With time and some good development, this team could get really exciting in the next few years.
I predicted that the Falcons would lose this game, and although they came very close to winning it, it was still a disappointing performance. Still, you have the like the way the team battled back after a series of gaffes put them down double-digits. You also have to like the fact that the Falcons don’t play a single team with a winning record the rest of the way. Los Angeles and San Francisco are deeply flawed teams, and Carolina is floundering. The most difficult game is probably the Saints, but Atlanta has already proven they can beat them. Injuries will ultimately determine whether or not this team has a chance in the playoffs, but they are capable of beating anyone on any day. I wouldn’t be shocked if Atlanta closed the season on a 4-0 run.
Well, by now this should sound familiar, but all of it is still true: the young defense will go through its growing pains, the Falcons don’t have the depth to withstand many injuries, and the divisional games will be critical. And now it’s coming down to those divisional games - which, by the way, are the next tiebreaker in the division standings after the head-to-head games. The Falcons have two divisional games remaining (Carolina, New Orleans) while Tampa has three of their four remaining games within the NFC South, playing New Orleans twice. Next week may be one of the ultra-rare occasions where Falcons fans find themselves rooting for the Saints.
Leave it to the Falcons to take a game that was going to be legitimately tough and turn it into a surprising, somewhat crushing loss. That’s due to the injuries that piled up in this one, the sometimes shiftless offense, the thoroughly overmatched defense, and the interception on a two point conversion that (incredibly) cost Atlanta their one point lead and led to the Chiefs winning. It was a disappointing end.
The Falcons are still in excellent position to go 10-6 and make the playoffs, with an easy remaining schedule, a pair of home games, and the Buccaneers facing three NFC South opponents and the Cowboys the rest of the way. With the team diminished due to injury and with two shaky offensive efforts in three weeks, though, the confidence is just a little harder to come by.