2017 has pretty much been all bad news for Atlanta sports, at least since Feb. 5.
There was the Super Bowl meltdown. Atlanta United’s first foray into playoff soccer that ended in heartbreak. The Hawks and Braves not even attempting to be competitive (for a purpose, but still).
Now, the Falcons are back again, and they’re trying really hard to miss the playoffs despite having a team that is, arguably, even more talented than the NFC champion squad a season ago.
The Falcons now face a must-win game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon, and the nation will be watching. Watching to see if these Falcons choke yet again and gift a playoff spot to a terribly mediocre and broken Seattle Seahawks team.
At this point, Dan Quinn’s Falcons have established themselves as the Masters of the Meltdown in his first three years of the new regime. The first year started with a 5-0 start, yet they didn’t make the playoffs. In Year 2, Quinn took Atlanta to the Big Game but couldn’t close out. A franchise that is, without a doubt, on a better track than in 2014 can’t afford yet another choke job.
Frankly, neither can its fans.
The Falcons nearly pulled off the unlikely in Week 9, losing by three in Charlotte to a Panthers team that simply played better. Julio Jones dropped an easy touchdown and the rest was history.
Atlanta should win the rematch. Home-field advantage, wishy-washy as it has been in the young history of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, should help. But with so much talent, and so much to play for, the Falcons have every reason to win Sunday and earn a spot in the postseason.
Of course, if Dan Quinn’s Falcons lose a heartbreaking game that they should have won, it would hardly be the first time.Follow @Sean_Breslin