We spent the last few weeks saying the Atlanta Falcons are basically in a must-win situation. At 1-2, another loss tosses a rock-bottom team a shovel. At 1-3, another loss rolls a boulder over the top of the hole. Dan Quinn really needed to beat the Bengals to keep a good chance at making the playoffs. He really, really needed to beat the Steelers to keep any realistic chance of making the playoffs.
What’s the realistic chance? Analytics site 538 ran the numbers from 1990 to 2013. It’s a little outdated, but teams that started 1-4, obviously, did not make the playoffs often.
That’s right. 5 percent of teams that start at 1-4 end up in the playoffs. This may be even tougher with a tough NFC pushing a wildcard berth up to 10 or more wins. Even assuming the conference falls apart and 9 wins will get a team that last wild card spot, the Falcons need to go 8-3 to get there.
Give me a healthy Falcons team and I’m optimistic they can slice through this tepid schedule for 8 more wins. Give me Jordan Richards, Duke Riley, and whatever Marquand Manuel is doing with the defensive line and secondary, and I cannot see it. Atlanta still faces off with the Ravens, the Packers, the Saints, the Panthers, and whatever Tampa Bay is after benching Ryan Fitzpatrick.
2018 went so quickly from potential Super Bowl berth to wasted season that I have whiplash. On the plus side, the Falcons are looking at a top 5 draft pick. Prepare for lots of draft talk.