The Atlanta Falcons couldn’t pull off a win against the New Orleans Saints last weekend and their loss has officially triggered panic mode in some circles. If you follow this team regularly, then you probably fall into one of two camps. Either you expected the Falcons to lose on the road against a good team and you’re already looking ahead to week 17 and (hopefully) the playoffs. Or you’ve completely lost faith and think the end of the season, whether the Falcons make the playoffs or not, is close by. Regardless, Falcons stock took a hit on Christmas Eve. Let’s break down the power rankings.
The 2016 Panthers are the only Super Bowl loser in the past eight seasons to miss the playoffs the following year. Atlanta would need to lose to Carolina in Week 17 for that to be a possibility. A win would mean another shot at a Super Bowl run for the Falcons.
That was not a day Falcons fans particularly want to remember. For all the Steve Sarkisian criticism this season -- and the offense did deliver another blah performance -- Matt Ryan doesn't look close to the quarterback he was in 2016. Even on completions, shallow crossers and out routes, he's throwing behind his intended targets or uncorking highballs.
They just aren't generating enough offense and need to beat the Panthers this week to ensure they make the playoffs.
The Falcons don’t catch a Week 17 scheduling break. The Panthers are still alive to win the NFC South and you have to assume they’ll play to win. The Falcons are in the playoffs with a win, but that’s no guarantee. The Panthers are the better team. We’ve practically gone from “the Falcons will be dangerous if they get in” to “at least the Falcons can save a little face by getting in.”
The Falcons still can reach the playoffs with a victory over the Panthers or a Seahawks loss. But this simply is not the same offense that it was last season. And this season is bound to end in disappointing fashion for Atlanta, whether it’s this coming weekend or soon thereafter.
There you have it. The central issue most critics zero in on is the offense. They just can’t wrap their mind around how the Falcons offense has regressed in 2017.