Now that was what I would call a signature win. The 49ers came into Mercedes-Benz Stadium brimming with confidence and the league’s most stout defense, and the Falcons ran all over them, as they have against all comers this season. Atlanta now sits at 3-3 in what has definitely been a better start that I imagined before the season began.
The final game in this difficult three-game stretch comes against the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals, whose 2022 destiny at this point has exactly matched that of the Falcons — an 0-2 start and a bounce back to 2-2 before suffering a frustrating Week 5 loss and enjoying a Week 6 triumph.
The Falcons continue proving to us that we should believe in them, despite the fact that they are operating with a league high $77 million in dead cap space and were written off by everyone in the media before the season began — this includes myself and my friends whom I work with here at The Falcoholic. It might be too early to admit that we were wrong (all of us will happily be wrong), but these guys fight, and I couldn’t be prouder of Arthur Smith and his group week in and week out, no matter what the result ends up being.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Cincinnati in Week 7, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will have a winning record at any point in the season for the first time since 2017. They will do so going 2-1 in what was arguably their most difficult three-game stretch on paper before the season began.
A defeat by the Buccaneers against the Panthers will also move the Falcons into first place in the NFC South for the first time at any point since 2017. The Birds are currently in a four-team tie for the NFC’s final Wildcard spot, and they have statistically the easiest rest of season schedule in the conference.
That schedule will begin to open up a bit with games against many vulnerable teams between now and the Week 14 bye week — opponents include the Commanders, Bears, Panthers (x2), Chargers and Steelers. Going into that stretch with a winning record will see the Birds in a very advantageous position as far as the playoffs and even division are concerned.
Atlanta will end a modest two game losing streak that’s currently ongoing against the Bengals. The team’s last victory in Cincinnati came in 2006.
If the Falcons lose
I won’t consider it much more than a speed bump in the 2022 season, as long as the defeat does not yield a major injury. The goal in this three game stretch was to go at least 1-2, and they achieved that with a win against the Niners last weekend.
The record will fall to 3-4, but that is still good enough to be considered “treading water” in what has been a pretty bad NFC this season. With an easy stretch of the schedule coming up, there won’t be a need to panic, although that opportunity to go above .500 will once again slip through this team’s grasp — a record with more wins than losses has been the Moby Dick to the Falcons’ Captain Ahab since 2018.
Atlanta will likely also fall a game back of the Bucs, given that they’re facing the Panthers, with a loss. The momentum from three wins in four tries will be halted, while the Bengals will continue their strong push to get back into the fold of the AFC’s elite.