Preseason projections commonly had the Atlanta Falcons hovering around the .500 mark. With everything they had to achieve on both lines alone that was probably a fair conclusion to come to, it may have even been out of the mind of someone see’s a glass half full.
With 3 games in the book it’s fair to say the offense went out and matched the New Orleans Saints, sneaking past in overtime. It’s probably an understatement to say they promptly destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The defense is showing it’s bend don’t break tendencies that served it fairly well during the 2012 campaign, while being slightly less opportunistic at this stage.
The game against the Cincinnati Bengals however, showed an offensive line that can still find itself manhandled, causing all sorts of headaches for the otherwise unflappable Matt Ryan. It also showed a defense that has many holes in terms of high end talent. That game looked very much like something Falcons fans got annoyingly used to during the 2013 season.
It’s been a mixed bag to say the least.
So how do the Falcons handle the rest of the 2014 campaign, and what’s the updated projection, in a best case scenario?
@ Minnesota Vikings (1-2) – A Vikings team with a rookie behind center and lacking their major offensive weapon. Surely the Atlanta Falcons offense will be too much? The Falcons go to Minnesota and get the win.
@ New York Giants (1-2) – On the road again, against a Giants team that hasn’t been great at all. Again, offense is too much. The win goes back to Atlanta.
vs Chicago Bears (2-1) – Bears wins have come on the road so far, but when it comes to the Dome, that’s where Matty Ice excels. I’m staying confident. It’s going to be a close one, but it will be a win.
@ Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – In the wake of the Ray Rice scandal, there’s something about Baltimore, probably team togetherness, that makes them a tough team to beat. I see a close game where the Falcons come away disappointed. This ones a loss.
vs Detroit Lions (2-1) – It’s over to London for this one, which takes home field advantage somewhat out of the equation. It’s a defensive front in Detroit that will give the Falcons o-line issues. Bend don’t break defense comes through. Squeak by with a win.
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) – Fact: It’s not getting better in Tampa Bay anytime soon. They may still be searching for their first win at this stage. Win for Atlanta.
@ Carolina Panthers (2-1) – This ones a flip of the coin for me. For that reason I see them splitting the series, winning their home games. Loss for Atlanta.
vs Cleveland Browns (1-2) – It’s in the Dome for the first time since Week 6. Home sweet home. If Johnny Manziel gets behind center by this point, this could be a tricky one. I don’t see that happening though. For that reason, win.
vs Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – Arizona drove Matt Ryan insane in 2013. He threw 4 interceptions. The whole offense will be desperate for redemption here. Atlanta offense proves too much again, just. Win.
@ Green Bay Packers (1-2) – Damn you Aaron Rodgers. Going to Lambeau is difficult, especially in December. Green Bay hands Atlanta a loss.
vs Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) – Big Ben puts points up somehow. He sneaks one away from Atlanta. Loss.
@ New Orleans Saints (1-2) – Much like the Panthers, toss a coin, win the home games. Another OT heart stopper? Either way it’s a loss for Atlanta in New Orleans.
vs Carolina Panthers (2-1) – Back in the dome for the regular season closer, and Matt Ryan takes advantage. They split the series as mentioned earlier. Win.
This will put the 2014 Atlanta Falcons at 10-6 and I think they’ll be ecstatic with that.
This may not be enough to win the NFC South but it may grant them a wildcard playoff spot, and after 2013, anything further is pure bonus territory.
GM Thomas Dimitroff & Head Coach Mike Smith are off the hot seats, and they get another draft to bolster a roster in need of a pass rush.
I will say, a lot of those wins are close games that could go either way. Some wins could easily turn to losses, especially when you look at the games against Chicago and Detroit. The 10-6 could quickly become 8-8 and no postseason.