One step forward and two steps back has been the story of the 2019 Atlanta Falcons, three weeks into the season. Just when it looked like the team had turned a corner and shaken off their Week 1 humiliation, they lose a very winnable game in Indianapolis because of an infinite number of penalties.
The Falcons come back home this weekend, where they hope to bounce back like they did in Week 2. The Titans are coming off of a disgusting showing on Thursday Night Football where they allowed nine sacks and scored only seven points. Star left tackle Taylor Lewan is suspended for one more week before Tennessee gets him back.
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 back to .500 at 2-2? What if they lose and fall to 1-3?
If the Falcons win
The difference between starting a season 2-2 and starting 1-3 is massive. Just like last week, this isn’t a conference game and it has no tiebreaker stipulations. Tiebreakers don’t matter if your overall record gets torn to shreds, however.
Dan Quinn’s record against the AFC over the past two years moved to 1-8 with last week’s loss in Indianapolis. There has never been a more important time for him to shake that AFC monkey off of his back than this week. A win would mark this as Atlanta’s first home victory against an AFC opponent since 2015.
Winning would see the Falcons move to 2-2 following their first quarter slate of opponents — the Vikings, Eagles, Colts, and Titans. Even though it was ugly, coming out of that stretch of games at .500 isn’t the worst thing in the world, and it would keep Atlanta within striking distance in both the early Wild Card and Divisional races.
Atlanta has to take advantage of a vulnerable opponent in Tennessee, if for no reason other than building some momentum for a much more difficult second quarter of the season. 2-2 would ease a lot of tension among the fanbase and around this team.
If the Falcons lose
I’m not saying the season is on the line in this game, but things could spiral out of control very quickly with a loss here.
The Falcons would be sitting at 1-3 with matchups against the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, and Seattle Seahawks accounting for three of the next four games on the schedule. All of these teams are better than the Colts and the Titans, and all of them will be the favorites against a psychologically decimated Falcons team.
A loss combined with a Saints win would also put the Birds two games back in the division, with Drew Brees’ return looming. The division could theoretically be out of Atlanta’s reach by the bye week.
The Falcons would also move to 6-12 against AFC opponents since Dan Quinn took over as the team’s head coach in 2015.
Speaking of Quinn, he may not be long for the job with another disappointing result on Sunday. I’m not saying that he would be fired on Monday morning, but the foundation for a coaching replacement will definitely be laid.