This whole Falcons season feels like a worst case scenario. It’s a bizarro world we’re living in, and the end result of this season is going to be so far off the mark of what we expected going into it, so we may as well batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst.
What does that look like? Our staff has some hot takes.
The Falcons lose out and finish 4-12
Look, this isn’t going to be everybody’s worst-case scenario, but tanking isn’t in my DNA. So my nightmare is watching this team not just lose the last four games of the season, but to look totally inept doing it, as they have pretty consistently over this four-game stretch.
For some folks, this will be the best-case outcome. It’ll land the Falcons a high draft pick, one that they can ostensibly use to shore up a position of need that became even more glaring in this lost season. That part will be fine, I guess, as long as Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn actually hit on a pick who will pan out. But I dread watching it happen. - Jeanna Thomas
The Falcons win out and finish 8-8
Fine, i’ll take the bait. While we all want to see this team win, at this point it would only mean a .500 season, missing the playoffs, and a precipitous drop in draft positioning. Going forward the Falcons should be focusing on giving their younger players meaningful snaps, prioritizing the health of their established veterans and regrouping for 2019.
A top-five pick in the first two rounds could provide the pieces along the defensive line that would finally give Atlanta a realistic pass rush, and with everyone (hopefully) coming back fully healthy it would put this football team in a very solid position to contend next season. - Carter Breazeale
The Falcons squeak out a few unimpressive wins against bad teams
I’m strongly in the middle here. If the Falcons regroup and look like a dominant team and go 8-8, then fantastic. Overcoming injuries and looking elite is a great indication of what they can do next season. If the Falcons choke out the rest of the season and end up with a top-five draft pick, then fantastic. Atlanta gets their pick of the best players in the draft.
Narrowly beating some struggling teams while playing bad football? That’s a no-win scenario (minus, you know, the winning part). I need the Falcons to either look great or choke out the rest of the year. Playing like they did against Baltimore but pulling out the win does nothing for the team. - Matt Chambers
The Falcons win out and suffer more injuries
At this point, the remainder of this season is about returning guys for 2019 as healthy as possible and rebuilding some key areas of this roster. Rebuilding the roster is made easier with higher draft picks. Picking at 6 versus at 12 could be the difference in getting one of the top 2 or 3 pass rushers versus getting the 4th or 5th best. Previous draft history has shown that can be the difference between getting a future hall of famer versus someone who flames out. On top of that, the team has had horrid injury luck, but at least most of those guys appear to be destined to play again in 2019. A late season injury now could be devastating.
Wrap these guys in bubble wrap and pray for a high draft pic. - David Walker
Atlanta wins just enough games to push themselves out of the top-10
Look, I’m never going to root against this Falcons team. Atlanta winning out over the final four games and elevating this season to a respectable, if very disappointing, 8-8 finish would go a long way in renewing fans’ faith in Quinn and Co. It’d suck for the draft (and could also potentially push them as a high as 2nd in the division), but it’d be worth it to see this team string together some good performances and end the season on a positive note. What would suck is putting together a couple of sucky but winning efforts—just enough to push the Falcons outside of the top-10 in the draft. In that scenario, nobody feels good and you’ve screwed yourself out of a potential blue-chip player. Don’t do that, please. —Kevin Knight