The Falcons recorded their first win of the season last week against the Minnesota Vikings, leaving much of the fanbase conflicted — on one hand it was nice to see the team have their most complete performance of the season, on the other hand it hurts potential draft positioning. The following weeks will determine if that was a fluke performance or not.
Next on tap is the Detroit Lions, who are coming off of their own dominant win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, following blown double digit leads in three of their first four games of the season. They really do feel like Atlanta’s counterpart.
Let’s dive into the major what if scenario this week, looking at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they win against Detroit and looking at if they lose, now that football is less than 24 hours away from being played again.
If the Falcons win
It would once again be a massive win for Raheem Morris as the team’s new head coach, and Jeff Ulbrich as the new defensive coordinator. The defense looked dominant until garbage time last week, and the better the team does from this point forward the more questions will need to be asked of Arthur Blank regarding why he waited so long to pull the trigger on the Dan Quinn firing.
The victory in Minnesota could just as easily be a flash in the pan as it could be something more — very often we see teams rally and put on a great performance after a head coaching replacement in the middle of the season. Wins in the coming weeks would go a long way in indicating that last week was more than a singular inspired performance.
The Falcons would move to 5-1 against the Lions in the Matt Ryan era, with the only defeat coming in that debacle in London back in 2014. Last time, it was a 10-second runoff which separated these two teams.
Victory would also tank Atlanta’s draft positioning for the time being. After the Jets and Giants (who lost on Thursday to fall to 1-6), seven teams sit on one win. Atlanta is in a current dogfight with those teams, and would lose much ground.
If the Falcons lose
Then we may look at that Minnesota game as more of a case of momentary success than something longer lasting. Matthew Stafford would record just his second victory ever against the Falcons.
I don’t even want to make mention of the playoffs because no 1-5 deserves to talk about that, but given the difficult second half of the season, any miracle run (just giving the theoretical scenarios here) would have to be propelled by wins against every team on the schedule leading up to the bye. Defeat against Detroit will quickly close the casket on that idea.
The good news is that the Birds would remain strong players for a top five draft pick, as they would guarantee at least a tie for the second worst record in the league (and if the Jets somehow win, it would be a tie for the worst record).