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An important reminder about why you shouldn’t panic about Week 1

Seriously, don’t panic.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve heard analysts talk about Week 1 being the outlier before, I’d wager, especially if you keep up with our own David Walker. It’s true that Week 1 results can be weird, something I fail to account for year after year when I make predictions about the outcome.

So I had the Bears losing to the Falcons pretty handily, something I certainly regret. I made a similar mistake a year ago, when I projected the Falcons to beat the Buccaneers, something they could not do. As it turns out, that deeply dispiriting loss was not a bellwether of bad times ahead.

The problems the Falcons had were different in that game—Jameis Winston killed them through the air, and the Bucs didn’t run all that well—but the feeling that the Falcons were not going to be great was even stronger afterwards. It did not, to put it mildly, end up wrecking the season.

So it’s useful to look back on that game, which featured sloppy defense and flags and a lackluster ground game keyed by lackluster blocking, and see it for what it was: An outlier.

There are plenty of reasons, even after one game, to think that the Falcons will be a different team this year than they were in 2016, starting with the offense’s relative lack of pre-snap motion, big strikes, and effective play action. But even so, the Falcons are legitimately talented, and it would take actual acts of sabotage on the part of their two new coordinators to not get decent play out of them going forward. The things that are worth worrying about don’t seem like fatal ones, at least not just yet.

You’ll be better off waiting to see what the Falcons do in Week 2, against a good Packers team, and let that tell you whether there’s something deeper going on. We’ll be repeating that all week.