I think the most positive possible description I can produce about Atlanta’s Week 10 declassing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys was that it wasn’t ideal. The Falcons went to Dallas, with an opportunity to consolidate a playoff spot and to get above .500 for the first time in three years all in one go, and go absolutely pantsed.
The tests don’t get any easier in what has become the back end of a very difficult stretch for the Birds. They now welcome the red hot New England Patriots to the A, in what is a quick turnaround with this being Week 11’s Thursday Night Football matchup.
The Patriots have won four consecutive games, three of those blowouts, and their defense has given up just 13 combined points over the past two weeks. They’re probably licking their lips at the prospect of facing this Falcons team.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the New England Patriots in Week 11, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
More than anything, it’ll be a much needed morale booster to the players, coaching staff, and fanbase, following the worst statistical loss the franchise has suffered in decades. Arthur Smith said he liked the quick turnaround because it makes you get over the loss to Dallas quicker — nothing will help everyone get over that defeat more than a win just a few days later.
The Falcons are currently in the middle of a five team dogfight for one of the last two Wildcard spots in the NFC. They’re one game behind the Saints, a half game behind the Panthers, and tied with the Vikings and 49ers. I know it’s cliche and probably unwelcome to be talking about playoff scenarios right now, but with Atlanta just a half game back of the picture it needs to be mentioned. A win would go a long way in helping the Falcons remain competitive.
It will be the first time Atlanta has ever beaten the Patriots with Bill Belichick as their head coach. The Birds have lost six consecutive games against New England, dating back to 2001, and are winless in this series since 1998.
If the Falcons lose
That feel good win against the Saints will become a distant memory, with two defeats over the course of five days. The Birds have already been knocked out of the playoff picture with the defeat in Dallas, and they’ll fall further into the hole with another loss here.
Through 11 weeks of the season, the Falcons will not have won a single game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Their record in Atlanta will fall to 0-4 — they’ll technically be 1-4 at home, but that win came in London.
Next week’s game against the Jaguars will become a must-win, or the Birds will be staring into the barrel of an effectively season-ending four-game losing streak with a game against the Buccaneers coming after that.