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Marks and milestones, good and bad, that the Falcons can hit this weekend

It’ll be an interesting Sunday in Atlanta, one way or the other.

Atlanta Falcons v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

When the Falcons play the Saints tomorrow, they’ll first and foremost be looking to cap off the season with a win. Beyond that, they’ll have the opportunity to make league history (Kyle Pitts, specifically) and team history in a variety of ways.

In addition to Kyle Pitts chasing Mike Ditka, as we’ll mention below, here are the team and individual franchise marks and milestones that this team either has already hit this season or can change on Sunday. Hopefully you’ll find some of them interesting.

As a team

  • The Falcons are currently the 25th-lowest scoring team in franchise history, and need 7 points to avoid being one of just 26 teams to score under 300 points in a season. If they have a 30 point effort in them—and it has been a while, obviously—they can leapfrog seven teams and wind up just ahead of the 1997 squad, who are themselves the 25th-highest scoring team in team history. That’s in 17 games, remember.
  • The Falcons are 7th-worst scoring defense in team history, having allowed 429 points through 16 games. The additional game is a factor here, obviously, but if they allow 33 points to the Saints they’ll vault all the way to the top of the list. Let’s not do that.
  • Atlanta has the 12th-worst scoring differential in team history with -136, though they’re in no danger of leapfrogging all the way to the top given that their -142 is nowhere close to the 1967 team’s -247. The Falcons would need to beat the Saints by 14 to move down to 13th and pass the 2003 Falcons (-123), but if they lose by 5 they’ll finish 11th and surpass the 1976 team (-140). They’re currently tied for the fourth-worst league ranking in terms of point differential ever, as only four Falcons teams have ever finished worse than 27th, where they sit today.
  • Whether they finish with 7 or 8 wins, Atlanta will have the worst point differential of any team with those win totals in NFL history. Something to look forward to, I suppose.
  • If they win Sunday, Atlanta will wind up with just their third 8 win season in franchise history. If they lose, meanwhile, it’ll be the 14th time they finish with 7 wins.
  • They’ll finish the year as the Falcons team with the most wins for a squad with a -100 or greater (lesser?) point differential either way, as before this year no Atlanta team in franchise history had finished with more than 5 wins. They won’t beat out the 1978 Falcons for most wins with a negative point differential, though, as that squad finished at -50 and 9 victories.
  • Finally, this pass rush has not been fun. Sacks don’t tell the full story, but this has been the league’s worst defense at getting after quarterbacks by most any metric you can choose. As 92.9 The Game’s Mike Bell noted the other day, if they don’t get a sack Sunday they’ll finish tied for the lowest total in team history...with a 1982 team that only played in nine games because of a strike. Woof.

Individual milestones

  • Kyle Pitts is obviously trying to break Mike Ditka’s rookie yardage, which stands at 1,076. Pitts is currently at 1,016 yards. He can also rise up the single season franchise leaderboard, as he’s currently 30th for yards in a single season and could rise to 25th with a 100 yard day. No tight end in team history has more yards already in a single year.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson is tied for 11th all-time in franchise history for combined touchdowns with 11. With one score Sunday, he’ll tie for 8th with William Andrews, Andre Rison and Michael Turner, and with two he’d tie for 5th with Devonta Freeman, Alfred Jenkins and Gerald Riggs. He’d need six in a single day to tie Michael Turner’s record of 17 in one season. I’d love to see that happen against the Saints but yeah, it’s not going to.
  • A.J. Terrell is having a phenomenal season. He’s on pace to finish 8th in the NFL in fewest yards per target, 5th among cornerbacks who have played a full season in terms of opposing passer rating, and is 7th in completion percentage allowed. I just wanted to include him here because he deserves to be singled out for praise as a current and future building block for the Falcons.
  • Matt Ryan is trying to keep a long-running streak of 4,000 yard seasons going, as he’s done so in ten consecutive years from 2011-present. He’ll need at least 248 yards against the Saints to keep that alive, and it would become the second-longest such streak ever behind Drew Brees, who had 12 straight. Peyton Manning has the record for most seasons with 4,000 yards, period, with 14.
  • Ryan also has a streak of 12 straight seasons with 20 or more touchdown passes, and he needs one on Sunday to keep that alive.
  • Younghoe Koo still has the best field goal percentage in team history, and he’s already 5th in made field goals all-time. With a couple of made extra points he’ll pass Fred Steinfort for 20th all-time in extra point percentage, which is the only area in which he’s lagging pace-wise behind franchise greats like Matt Bryant and Morten Andersen, who hit over 99% of their extra point attempts over their careers. Koo’s at an even 95%.
  • Dustin Dolquitt and Thomas Morstead currently are No. 2 and No. 3 respectively for highest yards per punt average in team history. That’s fun and weird.