The Falcons will officially not be matching the 1972 Miami Dolphins — the only undefeated team in NFL history — after losing their first game of the season this past week in Detroit, against the Lions. It was a slog of a game where Atlanta couldn’t get much going on offense, scoring just six points which is less than what they had in any game last season.
Despite that defeat, the Birds travel to London with a solid 2-1 record, and in first place in the NFC South after every other team in the division took a Week 3 loss as well.
Their opponents now are the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars, who came into the season as a strong team on paper but have had trouble finding their footing in the early going, suffering back-to-back defeats to fall to 1-2. Both teams are looking for a “get right” opportunity to set their seasons back on the right track.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Jaguars in Week 4, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will move to 3-1, which would still be their best start to an NFL season since 2017, and it would guarantee that they will have a share of first place in the NFC South for at least another week. The other two 2-1 teams in the division — the Bucs and Saints — are facing each other this week. One will come out of that game at 3-1 (unless they tie). The Falcons would have the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay on account of their conference record at this stage, but if New Orleans wins they would own the momentary tiebreaker over Atlanta due to a superior division record (2-0 vs. the Falcons’ 1-0 mark).
The Falcons will win their fifth consecutive game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a streak which began in 2011. This would also bring their head to head record against the Jags to a healthy 6-3.
Atlanta will also move their record in London all time to 2-1, with the other two games being a 2014 defeat against the Detroit Lions and a 2021 victory against the New York Jets. Both ended up being one score games.
This game is technically a road game, even though it’s being played across the pond. As such, this would be the first road win for the Birds on the season and the first road win of quarterback Desmond Ridder’s career in the NFL.
This win would also spiral the Jaguars into a bit of a panic mode, as they will unexpectedly fall to 1-3, which is something not many people saw coming and that they likely didn’t think possible after their success in 2022.
If the Falcons lose
I will advise against outright panic. At the beginning of the season, I think a very fair goal for this team would have been to finish the first quarter of the season at 2-2, especially given how difficult the three-game stretch between weeks 2-4 was. They have already achieved those two wins. If they lose in Week 5 at home a well, then some panic will be more warranted.
Nonetheless, the Falcons would fall from first place in the NFC South on account of the Saints and Bucs facing off. They would end up tied for second with the loser of that game, trailing the winner by one. The Carolina Panthers will also be able to potentially pull within one game of where Atlanta will be with a victory against Minnesota.
The Jaguars will celebrate a victory against Atlanta for the first time since David Garrard quarterbacked them all the way in 2007.
The Falcons won’t be in an awful spot in the big picture outlook of the season, with the schedule lightening up after this game, but this game would put a big damper on their excellent 2-0 start which had the fanbase incredibly excited. Atlanta would also fall into a bit of a risk of starting to spiral if they continue to stack losses after this one, putting a lot of pressure on them to beat the Texans in Week 5.