This series has gotten grimmer as the season has worn on, as have most things we’ve written and discussed. That’s pretty unavoidable.
That’s why this week we’re talking more about whether the Falcons will get blown out or simply lose to the Saints. They can win—Saints games are the exact spot where I would bet on a wacky outcome—but they’ve had such a rough year it feels irresponsible to feel confident about it. So we’re reduced to wondering if they can keep it close, and what that really would mean.
Let’s get to it.
Worry that Atlanta still has no answers
Even if you’re a big fan of going 1-15 in pursuit of a generational pass rusher, as many Falcons fans are, you probably don’t enjoy watching your team get the crap kicked out of them on a weekly basis. There’s a big difference between being 1-7 and victimized by injuries and close, agonizing losses that make it clear that your team still has talent and a vision and might be close to winning some games. It’s another to watch them just lose, over and over again, with every week bringing promises to improve that only become more and more hollow over time.
So yes, my worry is that the Falcons have nothing. I worry that in a tough matchup on the road against a motivated opponent, they’ll show that carefully considering their problems and trying to apply bandages to deep wounds won’t prove to be nearly enough. I’m worried that all we have to look forward to is dispiriting loss after dispiriting loss, and no matter where you stand on draft position, that’s not a fun proposition. Losing to the Saints after all the brave talk will sting, no matter what, and anything short of real progress will probably taste pretty bitter to Arthur Blank.
Feel confident that it’ll be more competitive than it should be
I’ve written a lot about the potential consequences of a blowout this week, because there have been plenty of blowouts this year and the Saints are both better than the Falcons and on a real roll. A blowout might also be the thing that pushes Arthur Blank over the edge with regards to Dan Quinn, though certainly he’s held out to this point.
If we’re being honest, though, this probably won’t be a blowout. In fact, 11 of the two teams’ 18 games since 2010 have been one score affairs, even when the Saints were putrid and the Falcons were awful and when the reverse was true. I’m still amazed the Falcons beat the Saints twice in 2014, for example. The truth is that these two teams always seem to dig deep as underdogs and fail to put the other one away as the favorites.
So I got into this one expecting a close game, and I think the odds are it will be, regardless of the vast and evident gulf between these two teams at the moment. That should at least make for a more lively Sunday, and that might be all we have to look forward to at this point.