Welcome to Week 1; we hope your offseason was pleasant and that these past few months were as stressless as possible for you. Let’s be honest, these next few months will be very stressful, as is the brand for Falcons football.
Atlanta’s season finally begins this week, in Minnesota, as the Birds look to bounce back from a very disappointing campaign in 2018.
The Vikings are coming off of a similarly disappointing year — after reaching the NFC Championship two years ago, Minnesota had its own Super Bowl aspirations going into 2018 after completing a major free agent signing of quarterback Kirk Cousins. They finished the season 8-7-1 and on the outside of the playoff picture, however.
Before I continue, since I mentioned the Vikings’ NFC Championship run in the 2017 season, here’s that Diggs walk-off touchdown against the Saints in the Divisional Round that year.
Let’s take a look at the hypotheticals of this game — what if the Falcons leave the Twin Cities with a win? What if they suffer defeat to the start their new campaign? Let’s dive in.
If the Falcons win:
Both the Falcons and the Vikings are NFC playoff hopefuls, with their rosters built to win now. They will be potential Wild Card competitors throughout the course of the season, as neither is currently a favorite to win their respective division.
Beating the Vikings in this game will not only give the Birds an early leg up in the standings of that potential Wild Card race (I’m still picking the Falcons to win the NFC South by the way, but you never know), but it would also give them a valuable head to head tiebreak in case of a tie.
Going beyond the standings, a road victory in Minnesota — which is a very difficult place to play — will give the Falcons a big confidence boost, and will send a message to the rest of the NFC South. It would get the nasty taste of the 2018 season out of our mouths, and would give this team a massive confidence boost going into the Sunday Night home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Getting a road win in this league is difficult; getting that road win against a conference opponent with playoff aspirations is very valuable.
If the Falcons lose:
The scenes in and around the fanbase won’t be pretty, for one. A loss wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would back this team into a corner going into the Week 2 tilt against Philadelphia — the season can really start getting away from you if you suffer back to back defeats against conference foes to start things off.
Starting the year off at 0-1, with a game against the Eagles coming up is unenviable, and it would make that Sunday Night home opener a lot more stressful.
Losing would put Atlanta on the back foot in a potential playoff race against Minnesota, as the Falcons would be trailing by a game and will have lost the potential tiebreaker. If the New Orleans Saints emerge from their Monday Night Football showdown against the Houston Texans victorious, then the Birds would be a game back in the division race as well.
Also, let’s be honest, a contingent of the fanbase would most likely be ready to press the panic button and declare Defcon 1.