There are seven undefeated teams left in the National Football League, and the Atlanta Falcons have lost to two of them.
Yet there’s a growing consensus that the recent misfortunes of the Falcons should lead to changes.
Changes to the coaching staff or the players on the roster. We’re not even sure where to start, but changes need to happen.
I heard a lot of that on sports radio and read about it on Twitter on a Monday that felt like a sports hangover for Atlanta. We can’t believe that we’re 1-2 when we could easily be 3-0.
Let’s pump the brakes for a second.
First of all, it’s been a very weird start to the 2013 season for NFC teams that were expected to be solid, aside from the Seattle Seahawks, who have been just fine. The Falcons, 49ers, Packers and Giants have all been putrid to start the year. Those four teams have a combined three wins so far. Perhaps it’s just a weird start.
Here’s the real kicker — three of those four teams, Falcons included, would be tied for the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC if the playoffs started today. The NFC clearly has started as slowly as it could, and it means the Falcons aren’t losing much ground with these early-season losses.
If you’re looking for a silver lining in a tough loss against the Miami Dolphins, it’s that the Falcons are traditionally very good in games following a loss under head coach Mike Smith. They’re also quite good at home. And they’re also quite good in prime time.
So Sunday night’s home game against the New England Patriots might be a good opportunity for the Falcons to notch a quality win and keep the fan base hopeful that good things are ahead in 2013.
Then, look ahead to the next month or so. After the Falcons play the Patriots, they have the Jets, Buccaneers, Cardinals and Panthers before they host the Seattle Seahawks. Those four games are all very winnable, and if the Falcons can go on a run, they could be looking at 5-3 or even 6-2 going into a huge showdown with Seattle.
If the Falcons can continue to improve along the offensive line (which they did on Sunday, allowing no sacks for the game) while staving off additional injuries, Falcons fans aren’t crazy to believe they can get things rolling in the right direction.
And even if they can’t, a .500 record should be good enough for a postseason berth in the hapless NFC.