I am definitely not the first nor the only one that is questioning the Atlanta Falcons at this point in the season. At 8-0, they’ve done exactly what every team wants to do in winning all eight of their games, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Falcons have played just one team with a winning record and struggled to beat some pretty terrible teams. Not only that, but the Falcons have been in this situation before.
In 2010 they were great in the regular season, finishing 13-3 as the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. They were awesome at home, so pretty much everyone assumed they were primed for a trip to the Super Bowl. They laid down and took a beating at the hands of the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, losing 48-21 to the eventual champions.
Last year they once again made the playoffs with a 10-6 record, but were hammered by the New York Giants 24-2. Losing to the eventual champions two years in a row isn’t that big of a deal, but losing in embarrassing fashion the way they did is.
Some people are giving this year’s Falcons credit for finding ways to win close games. They hung on to beat the Denver Broncos by six points—their only win against a team above .500—despite winning the turnover battle 4-0 and basically being gifted the first 20 points of the game.
They also won close games against the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders at home. I’m sorry if I’m not impressed when those franchises have shown the ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Panthers and Raiders are pathetic, and if the Falcons want to be considered a Super Bowl contender they have to win those games by more than two and three points, respectively.
They also hammered the San Diego Chargers—a team known for its slow starts—and the Washington Redskins on the road. The Redskins just so happened to lose star QB Robert Griffin III in that game and put their chances in another rookie in backup Kirk Cousins.
You don’t build character by barely winning close games against bad teams.
One thing Falcons fans can be happy about, beyond them being the only remaining undefeated team, is the Falcons are saying all the right things. They are not satisfied with regular season success. However, words spoken to the media are not the same as performing on the field.
Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons were able to run the table. They have just one game remaining against a team that currently has a winning record, and three against teams that currently sit at .500. The Falcons were gifted a ridiculously easy schedule this season and have been catching teams at the right time.
Could the Falcons be the second team ever to go 16-0? Absolutely, but I’d still pick against them in the divisional playoffs unless they start dominating inferior teams.