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At 0-3, Falcons playoff hopes are all but extinguished

Only 6 teams since 1980 have made the playoffs after getting off to such a dismal start.

Chicago Bears v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Since 1980, nearly 200 teams have seen their seasons get off to an 0-3 start, a feat the Falcons just equaled earlier today for the first time since 2007. This team has been in all three of their games at some point and had double digit leads in two of them, but all that has added up to zero wins.

Despite that, the team is understandably trying to keep their focus on the game ahead. They have 13 games left, whether any of us are relishing that prospect or not, and they can’t very well be like “well, we’ve blown enough leads for one season, time to pack it in.” Unfortunately for the team, history does not suggest that any approach to what’s ahead will result in this Falcons team making the playoffs.

Since the 1980 season, just six teams who started 0-3 have made the playoffs. The 2018 Houston Texans are by far the most recent and encouraging example, as they went 11-2 after a discouraging start to make the postseason. Given that the Texans had plenty of holes, they’re the team Dan Quinn and company might be most eager to learn from in the weeks ahead. What adjustments did they make? How did they keep players and coaches from getting discouraged? What minor demon did they make a pact with?

The remaining five teams all did 1998 or earlier, which means it happened in very different eras of football and the opportunities to emulate what they did are probably non-existent. The bigger takeaway is that the odds of the Falcons pulling off the playoffs now are under 5%, and a loss to the Packers on Monday Night Football would effectively make them 0%. The Falcons can’t give up hope because they are professionals trying to preserve their careers, the careers of the coaching staff and personnel they work with, and their collective reputations, and they always want to win. Fans and outsiders are not bound by that same requirement, and I doubt there are more than a few dozen Falcons fans who think “they got this” after watching them blow a 26-10 lead to the Bears.

The Falcons are out of time to solve this thing, and it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that Arthur Blank fires Dan Quinn in the hopes of ginning up some kind of motivation that may have been missing before now. Otherwise, the Falcons can only try to emulate the Texans and the five teams that came before them and find a way to win now and win the rest of the way, starting with the Packers in primetime very, very soon.