One quarter into the season and the Atlanta Falcons are 0-4 for the first time since 1999. Everything has gone wrong thus far, and now the team has to deal with the loss of Damontae Kazee to a torn Achilles on top of everything else.
Enter the Carolina Panthers — the preseason favorite to finish last in the division but playing some very solid football this season. They sit at 2-2 following an 0-2 start during which they lost their star running back Christian McCaffrey. This will be Atlanta’s first divisional matchup of 2020.
Let’s dive into the major what if scenario this week, looking at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they win against Carolina and looking at if they lose, now that football is less than 24 hours away from being played again.
If the Falcons win
It absolutely won’t fall under the category of “getting back on track” but hey, it would be a start. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this team will bounce back and go on some improbable playoff run — not without a full scale schematic changes — but it’s still in some realm of possibility.
For as bad as Dan Quinn has been as Atlanta’s head coach the past three seasons, he’s remained really good at one thing in particular — beating the Carolina Panthers. A win on Sunday would move Atlanta’s record against the Panthers to 9-2 since Quinn took over as head coach in 2015. It would also be Atlanta’s sixth consecutive victory against their rivals from up I-85.
The Falcons would get back to within one game of the Panthers in the division (and may get back to within one game of two teams if the Saints loss), but would conversely start losing their grip on the top 5 draft spot they’re currently in.
A victory would also be a big morale booster after what has been the worst start to an NFL season for a majority of the players on Atlanta’s roster. Dan Quinn would guarantee his job security for at least another week.
If the Falcons lose
The dark comedy of 2020 would continue in full force. Atlanta sits at 0-4 for the first time since 1999; it would be the first time since 1997 that they will have gotten off to an 0-5 start to begin a new season. We’ll continue playing this little game putting into perspective how historically bad the 2020 Falcons are in comparison other teams in franchise history the more they keep losing.
Defeat for the Falcons paired with a Saints win against the Chargers on Monday night would move the Birds to a full 3 games back of the division. The bottom is a lonely place to be, and it will be Atlanta’s residence for a while in such a scenario.
The good news is that the team would continue to be an elite player in #2020DraftPickWatch. Tankathon currently has them slated for the second overall pick if the season were to end today, and they would consolidate a top four place for at least another week.
We may actually see some changes to the coaching staff, though I’m not really holding my breath at this point.