Just a few weeks ago, the Atlanta Falcons were 1-4 and most fans had written them off for the playoffs. In fact, many fans began talking about draft picks and who the team could select early in the 2019 draft. After two straight wins, there’s a little more optimism, even if the majority of fans still think they don’t make it this year.
With a much needed bye week ahead and some of the hardest games behind the team, there is a path by which this Falcons team could still sneak into the post-season. Looking at the remaining schedule, this is a potential path for the Falcons to finish at 10-6 with a chance of making the post-season.
Washington Redskins (11/4)
It all starts here. If the Falcons can’t win this game - and it will be hard - then the hope of finishing 10-6 will diminish quickly. Washington has a very good defense that is incredibly stingy about giving up rushing yards. However, some match ups in the secondary could benefit the Falcons. Their offense isn’t anything to write home about, so if the Falcons defense can do more of what they did against the Giants, they could keep this close enough to sneak out with a critical win.
Win. Falcons are 4-4
Cleveland Browns (11/11)
The Browns look like a team on the cusp of becoming good. They have some very good pieces on their defense, but there are some gaps to be taken advantage of. Their offense could be a problem, but Mayfield is inconsistent as you’d expect from a rookie QB. Again, this will not be an easy game, but the Falcons need to win this one. Let’s assume a close, hard fought victory here as well.
Win. Falcons are 5-4
Dallas Cowboys (11/18)
The Dallas defense is a much improved unit that can get after the QB. This game worries me, simply because of this match up. The Dallas offense has struggled a good bit this year, so this game could still be a close one. Again, if the Falcons are going to make a push for the playoffs, they have to win at home. This could be the deciding game though, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go our way. For the purposes of this write-up, we’re hesitantly penciling in a win.
Win. Falcons are 6-4
New Orleans Saints (11/22)
The Saints are one of the top teams in the NFC right now. Their defense has improved as of late, but this rivalry game is always close regardless of how the teams look on paper. However, a short week plus playing on the road seems like a tough pill to swallow. This is the first setback after the bye.
Loss. Falcons are 6-5
Baltimore Ravens (12/2)
If Deion Jones is back at this point, the Falcons defense could be much improved. Unfortunately, they’re going against one of the best defenses in the NFL. They currently lead the league in sacks, though they’ve also faced some pretty bad teams so far in 2018. This one is in Atlanta, and I like the match ups we have against their corners. I think this could be another turning point game for the Falcons.
Win. Falcons are 7-5
Green Bay Packers (12/9)
Green Bay in December is intimidating. The Packers have a respectable defense and Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers. I always saw this one as a loss and still do.
Loss. Falcons are 7-6
Arizona Cardinals (12/16)
This is a team in rebuild mode with a rookie QB that is struggling. I like this match up a lot.
Win. Falcons are 8-6
Carolina Panthers (12/23)
For whatever reason, the Dan Quinn Falcons have been really good against the Panthers. Carolina has looked good this year, but their offense still seems to be hit and miss. Division games are rough, but I think the Falcons pull off another big win here. The earlier win against them showed they can do it.
Win. Falcons are 9-6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12/30)
It’s the Bucs.
Win. Falcons are 10-6
If you aren’t fully buying this, you’re not alone. There are several games on the remaining schedule that can definitely go sideways. The Redskins, Browns, Ravens and Cowboys all give me pause. We’ll know more about whether this is even remotely realistic when they take on Washington in a few weeks.
What are your thoughts? Can the Falcons go from 1-4 to a playoff berth?