Things are getting dangerous as far as Atlanta’s season is concerned. After dropping back-to-back winnable games against the Colts and Titans, the Birds are sitting on a 1-3 record with a multitude of questions to answer.
The Falcons hit the road this week, traveling to Houston for the first time since Super Bowl 51. The Texans are a team hungry to bounce back after getting shut down in their last outing against the Panthers. They’re probably happy that the reeling Falcons are coming to town.
It’s that time of the week again — the game is less than 24 hours from kicking off, and football fever is nearing its weekly climax.
Let’s take a look at the hypotheticals of this game — what if the Falcons win and move their record to 2-3? What if they lose and fall to 1-4?
If the Falcons win
The Falcons need a win like they need oxygen that this point. Coming into the season, this game in Houston was marked on the calendar as one of the more difficult ones on the schedule, and now it’s turned into as close of a must win as you can get.
A win gives Atlanta some hope of making an immediate turnaround — the winless Arizona Cardinals would be next on the schedule, and the team could theoretically be 3-3 going into some tough home tests.
A win would also pull the Falcons back to within one game of the division if the New Orleans Saints lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both the Saints and Bucs would be sitting at 3-2 in such a scenario.
For the third straight week, there are no tiebreaker implications, as this is an AFC opponent. For the love of God, can Dan Quinn just win a game against an opposing AFC team for once? It’s been two years!
If the Falcons lose
A loss would result in a 1-4 start to the season for the second straight year. Last season, Atlanta bounced back with a three-game winning streak to get back to .500 in the immediate aftermath (before subsequently collapsing as Dan Quinn’s teams are prone to do).
They also faced the weak part of their schedule at that point in the season, however. That’s not the case this time around — following two road games at Houston and at Arizona, the Birds come home for dates against the Seahawks and Rams before the bye week.
A loss here, and Atlanta could easily be 2-6 going into the bye. If that’s the case, they’ll have to go 8-0 in the second half, including 6-0 against the division, to have a chance at the postseason. No, I could not type that with a straight face. There’s also a very real chance that Quinn is gone if this team is 2-6 at the bye.
A loss would either see the Falcons fall to three games back in the NFC South race, or potentially be two games back of every other team in the division.