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Week 7 is a turning point for the Falcons

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Atlanta will either end the week at 4-2 with an important victory, or at 3-3 with the future of their 2017 season in serious doubt.

Miami Dolphins v Atlanta Falcon Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After watching the Falcons completely fall apart in last week’s atrocious loss to the Miami Dolphins, there hasn’t been a ton of optimism surrounding this team. The offense is inconsistent and plagued by bizarre schematic and execution issues. Atlanta’s defense is young and improving, but has been unable to play well late in games and just gave up 20 points in a half to the worst offense in professional football. All of this after a bye week in which the Falcons were supposed to fix these problems.

After starting 3-0, the Falcons have lost two straight and are heading in the wrong direction. The rest of the NFC South—outside of the Buccaneers—has been steadily improving, and Atlanta finds itself sitting in third place in the division. The schedule the rest of the way isn’t getting any easier, and the next game might be the most important of all.

A chance for redemption, a chance to right the wrongs of 2016—in some small way.

Before last week, the feelings from fans were pretty strong: we thought the Falcons would have an excellent shot at knocking off the Patriots. After all, New England features the worst defense in the league, and they’ve looked very vulnerable early in the year despite their talent on offense.

After the atrocity that was the Dolphins’ game, there isn’t much optimism left anymore. The Falcons are underdogs in New England and the sentiment around the league is that Atlanta is heading for their third straight defeat. The whole situation reeks of 2015, where Atlanta got out to a hot 6-1 start only to lose 7 of their next 9 games and end the season at 8-8.

The main difference between the 2015 and 2017 teams is talent—the 2017 Falcons, despite their shoddy performances over the last two weeks, are arguably the most talented roster in the NFC.

So why aren’t they playing like it? What the hell is wrong with the Falcons?

While there have certainly been some questionable coaching decisions—namely on offense, where there has been a strange emphasis on Taylor Gabriel and an equally strange lack of focus on Julio Jones and the best RB tandem in the NFL—a lot of the problems appear to come down to execution on the part of the players. At times this season, it seems like the Falcons—who pride themselves on being a “brotherhood” and competing—have just given up and played sloppy, uninspired football.

It’s time for a wake-up call. It’s time for this team to stop wasting their time and our time, and start playing the way we know they can. They have far too much talent to be the hot mess of a team we’ve witnessed over the past two weeks. Week 7’s match-up against the Patriots is their chance to prove themselves.

The Falcons need to come out and play inspired football again. They need to take advantage of a struggling Patriots team and get this much needed win. Emotionally and practically, this is turning into a must-win game for Atlanta.

If the Falcons come away with the victory, they’ll re-energize a fanbase that has been tortured for far too long and enter Week 8 at 4-2 with a signature win under their belt.

If the Falcons fail and end up with another loss, they’ll be back to .500 after starting the season 3-0 and will have failed to take advantage of the biggest game on their schedule.

Technically, the season would still be far from over at 3-3, especially with a very winnable game against the New York Jets coming up in Week 8. But it’ll be hard to get excited about this team going forward until they start playing with passion again. Here’s to hoping we finally see that passion rekindled in Week 7. Otherwise, it could be the beginning of a long, depressing year in Atlanta.