The Falcons will be able to do several things with a win over the Saints next Sunday. They’ll beat their loathsome rival, give Arthur Smith his first win in a season opener, and quiet some of the doubt around this team’s viability as a contender in 2022.
Beating the Saints is obviously the biggest and most important piece here, but there’s another reason it’s a big deal: It has a chance to be Atlanta’s first season-opening win since 2017, when they squeaked by the Bears to move to 1-0.
That was also the last year the Falcons were undefeated to start the season, as well as their last winning season overall. It has been long enough that it’s easy to forget how buoying an opening day win can be, especially when the alternative is the kind of deeply dispiriting loss that let us know what we were in for in 2020 and 2021.
It goes without saying that an opening day win guarantees very little—the 2016 Falcons famously lost a deeply frustrating game to the Buccaneers and went on to enjoy one of the best seasons in franchise history, while the 2015 Falcons won theirs and um did not—but this team is in need of the confidence boost and early standings boost this would provide.
There is no better way to put this team on the path to bigger and brighter things than ruining the start of the Dennis Allen era and having a win in their pocket as they prepare to face the Rams in Week 2. Let’s hope they can buck a recent trend and triumph in the opener.