The new season has only just begun and the Falcons are already needing to dig themselves out of a hole if they wish to be in any sort of postseason contention. The Birds sit at 0-2, a mark that not one single team in the NFL bounced back from to make it to the playoffs last season.
A road loss against the defending champion Los Angeles Rams in a game where the team nearly came back from a 28-3 deficit is nothing to be ashamed of, but “almost” doesn’t matter in the win-loss column — it still gets marked down as defeat even if moral victory is claimed.
The Falcons stay on the West Coast for a date against the Seattle Seahawks, where they will also face opposition from famed “12th Man” up in Lumen Field. Seattle is coming off of an ugly defeat against their division rival 49ers, and they currently sit at 1-1 after spoiling Russell Wilson’s homecoming in Week 1.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will finally raise themselves from the rank of the winless in the young NFL season, and will even build on the good ending we saw in the Rams game. The flight home from a two week West Coast trip will also be all the happier. The players seem to be buying into the message from the coaching staff two games in, but actual wins are also needed to help that investment continue.
This will be Atlanta’s first win against Seattle since the Monday Night Football triumph in 2017, where a Blair Walsh missed field goal powered the Dirty Birds to a massive win in their playoff push. Seattle has won each of the previous two meetings. Atlanta’s record against the Birds from the Pacific Northwest will improve to 7-7 since realignment in 2002, and to 9-12 overall (with a 2-0 record in the playoffs for Atlanta).
If both the Falcons and Seahawks end up competing for a Wildcard spot this season, this game will serve as a major factor for tiebreaker implications. That Falcons win in 2017 ultimately ended up being the difference in Atlanta earning the NFC’s final Wildcard spot over Seattle, and while it seems unlikely the two teams will both be in the mix in December, it is possible.
Arthur Smith’s road record as Falcons head coach will move to 6-5, a rather impressive record with all things considered. The Birds were road warriors last season and showcased that same fight in Week 2 despite the loss. This would also be Smith’s first ever victory against the NFC West as a full on head coach, as he is currently 0-2.
If the Falcons lose
Things could spiral in a hurry. Atlanta finished with a respectable 7-10 record last season. The biggest driver in that mark was their successful run of three wins in their next four games following an 0-2 start. Seattle looks like one of the easiest games on the schedule this year on paper. It’s imperative that Atlanta start to bounce back from this year’s 0-2 start in a hurry, given how tough things can get afterward, and given that this team obviously wants to show progress and contend.
If you’re into draft takes and positioning then we’ll take a massive step in that direction. An 0-3 start to the season with the Browns, Bucs, 49ers and Bengals on the horizon (and then the Chargers sandwiched in between games against Carolina) could very quickly result in a lost season before we even get to the halfway point (again, at least as far as playoffs are concerned).
If Atlanta and Seattle compete for draft positioning at the end of the season, this would be a beneficial defeat for the Falcons in an attempt to get the highest possible pick. That seems likelier than postseason contention, but it’s early yet.
The crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium will likely not be as packed as we saw in Week 1 following an 0-3 start, the second such start in the past three years for Atlanta. A Falcons team that has vowed to improve would have a lot of work to do to show progress after that.