The 2018 version of the Atlanta Falcons are what we’ve always known as fans: continual promise interrupted by depressing heartbreak. The game against the Bengals said it all, as the offense looked amazing yet again, only for the game to be lost by one single point. Good grief. Here are some key takeaways from the game.
Offense is great, but not enough
In the NFL, scoring 30 or more points should be a guaranteed win. Scoring 35 or more should never result in a loss and yet that’s what we’ve gotten for two straight weeks. This offense is currently operating at a ridiculous rate that is probably not sustainable, but it’s fun to watch nevertheless. The red zone woes from 2017 are a distant memory and Matt Ryan arguably looks as good as he did in 2016 when he won the league MVP.
Yet, it’s not enough. The injuries to the defense are squandering what could be another record setting year for Ryan and this offense. It’s amazing and depressing and disheartening.
Defensive adjustments were overlooked
The Falcons defense gave up a depressing 28 points in the first half against the Bengals. What’s being overlooked in the loss is the fact that they held the Bengals scoreless in the third quarter and to only 9 points in the second half. The coaching staff made adjustments that appeared to work and the unit seemed to be ... not god awful. While they did give up the go-ahead TD at the end of the fourth quarter, there’s reason to think this may be the worst performance we’ll see from them this year.
If Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley can build off their performances today, the pass rush could help compensate a little for the issues in the middle. This defense is not going to be good this year, but there’s some hope they can avoid being the worst in the league.
Playoffs slipping away
Unfortunately, statistics tell us the Falcons playoff hopes took a devastating uppercut today. Teams that have gone 1-3 in the past have less than a 15% chance to make it to the playoffs. Going 2-2 would have given them over a 50% chance, so the impact of this loss was pretty significant. The Falcons can still crawl back out of this hole, but dropping two straight means you have to win several on the road going forward. It’s going to be a big, uphill battle to be relevant in January.