Well, we can officially consider the London trip to be a total loss for the Falcons. Had the team gone down swinging against a very good Jaguars team and come back home at 2-2, there would have been some real hope and promise.
Instead, the team looked like a disaster offensively, Desmond Ridder continued to look awful and they come back home having scored just 13 points in the past two weeks, albeit still at that 2-2 record which is all that matters in the NFL. At the same time, it is one which inspires far less hope than there would have been in the first scenario.
Next, the Falcons welcome a Houston Texans team that they chose to face in this specific week — when a team plays in London the NFL gives them the option of either taking their bye week immediately afterward or to choose whoever is on their schedule to play against the following week, instead.
The Texans at home, thought before the season to be arguably the easiest game on Atlanta’s schedule, suddenly looks a bit more daunting. They sit at 2-2 after quality wins over the Jaguars and Steelers, with rookie CJ Stroud proving to be a force in the initial stages of his NFL career.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Texans in Week 5, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
The panic being felt around this fanbase would subside, at least momentarily. As we’ve seen over the course of the past few seasons, a loss here and a loss there can suddenly result in the team spiraling out of control and out of any sort of real hopes for their season. Regrouping at home and putting an end to a losing streak during difficult periods of the season and not allowing for that spiral is what a good team does.
Desmond Ridder will be able to silence some of the critics for the time being with a good performance. Calls for his benching reached a new high during a catastrophic first half against the Jaguars and that discussion can be held at bay with better performances. He would also continue adding to his impressive home record, going to 31-0 in college and the NFL combined.
The Falcons would not be able to climb back into first place in the NFC South as the division leading 3-1 Bucs have a bye week, but they would be able to climb to within 0.5 games. They also would guarantee to stay in at least second place, even if the 2-2 Saints also win this week.
After the past two weeks, this team seems more than ever to need a win to give their fans that sense of hope they provided in the first two games. The psychological effects of that happening will be massive, as it would give a sense that maybe these aren’t just the “same old Falcons” that we’re way too used too.
If the Falcons lose
Then that success enjoyed in the first two weeks will feel like it happened in a different world. The losing streak would hit three and this franchise would once again find itself in the all too familiar place of below .500 football.
If you thought the panic from this fanbase now is bad, it’ll be a different level if this team loses to the Texans at home. That spiral I mentioned in the previous section will be in full effect and the Falcons will find themselves in a very dangerous position in the weeks to come.
The Falcons will drop to 1.5 games out of first place in the division, and may even fall to a full game behind second place if the Saints win this weekend. They will lose ground in what’s supposed to be an easier part of their schedule.
Depending on how he plays, calls for Desmond Ridder’s removal and Taylor Heinicke’s insertion into the starting quarterback role will continue to get louder, Arthur Smith will continue to get questions around that from the media and the fanbase will continue to turn on the coaching staff. If winning cures all, then losing spreads the sickness.