At 2-0, this train is absolutely rolling! A welcome change from the past five seasons, during which the Falcons’ train has seemingly derailed the second it left the station.
Atlanta enjoyed an absolutely exhilarating comeback victory against the Green Bay Packers in front of their raucous home crowd and have now made it two NFC victories in as many attempts. They were led by the sensational Bijan Robinson, who is already starting to make headlines around the league as one of the best players at his position.
Next, they face a stiff test in their first road game of the season, against the 1-1 Detroit Lions who came into this season as the favorites to win the NFC North. Detroit is coming off of an overtime home defeat against the Seattle Seahawks and will have bounce back on their minds as they welcome the Falcons to Ford Field for the first time since their guests escaped with a famous victory via 10-second runoff in the 2017 season.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Lions in Week 3, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will repeat their exact same trajectory from 2017 when they beat the Packers at home in Week 2 and then the Lions on the road in Week 3 to move to 3-0. This would be the seventh 3-0 start in franchise history.
Atlanta would also continue to put the pressure on the rest of the NFC South, which actually has three teams that have started out at 2-0. With the Buccaneers playing the Eagles and the Saints going on the road against Green Bay, this presents a nice chance for the Falcons to gain some separation in the early stages of the division race.
It’s very premature to be talking playoffs or playoff scenarios, but all of these games matter when looking back. There is a good chance that the NFC North could come down to a battle between the Packers and Lions, with the runner up competing for a Wildcard spot. A win here would ensure that Atlanta possesses tiebreakers over both of those teams, which is something you always really want to have. They would also start out with three conference wins.
The belief, energy and excitement around these Falcons will continue to kick up a few more notches. The Falcons are the story in the city right now, and are gaining more and more national buzz. Victory in a difficult environment in a game where they aren’t favored by many would just continue to solidify Arthur Smith’s unit as a serious ball club.
If the Falcons lose
They will still be in a very advantageous and comfortable position, because they got the job done at home and got out to that 2-0 start. It’s actually really nice being in a position above water where you can even afford a defeat without it being a massive blow to your long term season outlook, something this team does not have experience with at all the past few seasons.
Nonetheless, defeat would halt this team’s newfound momentum and may pour some cold water on them for the time being. That tiebreaker we talked about in the section above will also belong to Detroit if that does come into play; so if the Falcons win their division they would hope for the Packers to win the NFC North, and if the Falcons fall short of taking the NFC South but are competing for the Wildcard, they would root for Detroit to win the division to instead compete for that playoff spot with Green Bay.
The Falcons will also stand to fall behind in that early divisional race if the Saints or the Buccaneers win this weekend, and would board the plane to London for a difficult matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars while staring in the face of a possible .500 record with another defeat there.
While losing in Detroit is nothing to be ashamed about this season, this would feel like a big missed opportunity given how banged up the Lions are coming into this matchup. It would potentially have the makings of some regret down the line.