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Falcons schedule suddenly looks much more straightforward

If you’re entertaining postseason hopes, here’s a reason to do so.

NFL: OCT 16 49ers at Falcons Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons looked like they were walking into a buzzsaw, as the first seven weeks of their 2022 season were about as difficult on paper as you could have “hoped” for.

Through six of those seven weeks, the Falcons have been the buzzsaw. This team won three games, including a stomping of the 49ers they just got done with, and came awfully close to taking a couple more of those games. The last truly difficult game left is the Bengals, who are finding their form week-by-week even if it hasn’t always been pretty, and then the Falcons hit the soft part of the schedule.

As Mike Clay noted on Twitter the other day, Atlanta has an opportunity to really wreak some havoc in their final 11 games, given that there only are one or two teams left on the slate who look intimidating.

This matches Tankathon, which has Atlanta’s .396 strength of schedule as the weakest in the entire NFL. Even grizzled pessimists burnt by years of “by jove, they just might do it!” unwarranted optimism have to admit that:

  • Carolina is putrid;
  • The Bears stink;
  • Pittsburgh is pretty bad;
  • Arizona is falling apart in real-time;
  • Washington is playing far worse than their talent level would suggest they should play;
  • New Orleans stinks, but in a way that is somehow particularly odious;
  • Tampa Bay is playing far worse football than you’d expect them to.

That leaves the Bengals and Chargers as the only truly tough matchups left, with the caveat that the Buccaneers, Steelers, Cardinals, and Commanders could all find their footing at some point between now and when they play the Falcons. Given how good Atlanta looks right now, it’s not hard to imagine them starting to roll up some wins unless injuries mount or Mariota regresses badly again, even with the knowledge that the defense has gotten a few lucky breaks in the past couple of weeks.

The Falcons aren’t—say it with me!—a finished product just yet, and they may still fall short in ways we can’t yet foresee. It’s getting awfully hard to look at this team, their opponents, and how much progress has been made and not start to dream about some kind of postseason run.