The Falcons followed their first win of the season with yet another defeat that was a statistical improbability (they had a 98% chance of winning at one point late in the fourth quarter and lost — this is the third time they’ve accomplished such a feat this season). This team’s reputation as the biggest chokers in the NFL is well earned, and it seems like they just enhance it with each passing week.
Next, the Falcons take center stage in primetime on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. Carolina came to Atlanta and won the first matchup between these teams, in Week 5. I can’t wait to see what these Falcons have in store for us with the whole country watching!
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 around 24 hours away from being played again.
If the Falcons win
It will be a big relief for the coaching staff and the locker room after the embarrassing defeat a few days ago. The best part about a short week is that it helps everyone move on rather quickly if the team fell flat on its face in the previous game (and it did).
Matt Ryan’s career record against the Panthers will move to 17-9 while Atlanta’s head to head series record with the Panthers will move to 33-19. This is generally a team the Falcons have owned, both in recent memory and historically. Atlanta’s record against Carolina will also move to 3-1 in primetime. This is the first primetime matchup between the two teams since 2004.
Atlanta will crawl back to within a game of the Panthers for third place in the division. The Falcons haven’t finished last in the NFC South since 2007.
The draft pick Atlanta has going for it could fall all the way to ninth, pending a number of convoluted NFL tiebreakers. The Falcons would currently be picking fourth if the draft happened today.
If the Falcons lose
Not only will that game against Detroit not be forgotten, it will be compounded with another defeat four days later. When a team is losing all of its mistakes and past shortcomings tend to get magnified.
The Falcons will get swept by the Panthers for just the fourth time in history, and the first time since 2013 (this also happened in 2005 and 1997). The Panthers have never possessed more than a three-game winning streak against Atlanta. Their victory a few weeks ago snapped a streak of five straight Falcon wins in head to head matchups.
The Panthers will create even further separation between themselves and the Falcons in the standings, burying the Birds even further into last place, as they will be a full 3.0 games back of the third placed Panthers.
That sweet sweet draft pick will remain very strong. There are currently four teams who sit with a 1-6 record (including Atlanta), with the Jets being the leaders in the tank wars at 0-7. Two of those 1-6 teams (the Jaguars and Texans) face each other this weekend; a loss would ensure that Atlanta maintains hold of at least a top four draft spot for another week.