After two games, the Atlanta Falcons are 1-1 to open the 2019 season. If you had approached me in the offseason and told me that the Falcons managed to go 1-1 against the very difficult opening stretch of the Vikings and Eagles, I would’ve been pretty satisfied. On the whole, I am satisfied with the overall result: but the manner in which the Falcons arrived at 1-1 has made myself and many other fans uneasy.
For starters, this is a team that fell flat on its face in Week 1. Atlanta was down 28-0 at one point against the Vikings, and committed four turnovers in a total catastrophe of an opening game. Against the Eagles in Week 2, the Falcons looked much more in-control—particularly on the defensive side of the ball—but still committed three turnovers and had the game come down to the final seconds.
After those two performances, I’m left wondering: who is this team, really? Generally, when trying to make predictions, you look closely at the most recent data point. That would be the Eagles game, which while flawed, was ultimately encouraging. But I can’t quite shake the feeling of looming disappointment which always seems to follow this team around. After all, we’ve seen one positive performance from Atlanta, and one negative one. The team is .500, and has played like it thus far.
A Week 3 matchup against a Colts team that is solid but relatively unspectacular is an excellent opportunity for the Falcons to show us who they really are. Can Atlanta go on the road and get a win against a middling defense? Can the Falcons defense, which has been very impressive through two games, shut down an Indianapolis offense that is relying heavily upon the running game to move the ball?
On paper, this is a game that the Falcons should win. The Colts did manage to take a pretty good Chargers team to overtime in Week 1, and eked out a narrow win against a solid Titans team in Week 2 that I think we all expect to finish somewhere in the realm of 8-8 this season. Indianapolis will also be playing at home for the first time in 2019, which should be a decent boost to their confidence after two straight road games.
To me, this game is more important than it appears on paper. Looking at it from a tiebreakers perspective, the game really isn’t a big deal: it’s an out-of-conference game on the road. A loss in Indianapolis wouldn’t sink the team by any measure. But from a confidence and consistency angle, the Falcons need this win. Atlanta needs to start establishing some momentum, and they need to prove—to themselves, to the fans, and to the NFL—that their Week 2 upset of the Eagles wasn’t just an early-season fluke.
I expect this game to wind up a little too close for comfort, but I think the Falcons manage to pull off the win. Taking care of a Colts team that we all view as a beat-able opponent, even on the road, is an important step for a Falcons team that is trying to establish itself as a true contender in 2019. It would also go a long way in establishing consistency—which has been in short supply since the 2017 season.
How important do you think this Week 3 game against the Colts is for the Falcons? What are your thoughts on Sunday’s matchup?