Falcons turned this week into must-win game

Tom Coughlin’s and Mike Smith’s teams are going in different directions in the NFC. (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Tom Coughlin's and Mike Smith's teams are going in different directions in the NFC.  (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Tom Coughlin’s and Mike Smith’s teams are going in different directions. (Getty Images)

This isn’t a question I generally ask in the first week of October: But is it possible the Falcons’ season will come down to the next game?

They’re 2-3. That’s not great but it’s also not end-of-the-world stuff because they play in the NFC South, which is the NFL’s Mediocrity Central. Carolina is in first place at 3-2, and the Panthers have a net points differential of minus-16.

The Falcons’ problem — well, one of their problems — is they can’t win on the road. They’re 0-3 this season, 1-10 over the last two and have lost 10 straight games outdoors (going back to a Nov. 25, 2012 win over Tampa Bay, which also was the last time they beat a .500 or better team on the road).

This season, the Falcons have lost at Cincinnati, Minnesota and New York. In the Stats That Matter Dept.: They’ve been outscored 51-28 in the second half of those games, including 27-0 in the fourth quarter in the last two weeks.

This week, the Falcons are at home against Chicago. A loss would drop them to 2-4. If you presume it’s going to take a 9-7 record to win the division, that would necessitate them going 7-3 in final 10 games. I have a difficult time seeing this team going 7-3 in any 10 game stretch, especially given that it’s 1-10 on the road since the 2013 season and has dropped 10 straight outdoors.

The Falcons have only seven real home games this season because they gave one away to play in London (against Detroit on Oct. 16). Even sweeping their seven Georgia Dome games, including Chicago this week, gets them to only seven wins.

After this week, the Falcons travel to Baltimore, then London for the Detroit game, then Tampa Bay, then Carolina. They’re not back at home until Nov. 23 against Cleveland.

If you wondered how a situation could look desperate after only five games, that’s how. It’s why I don’t think the Falcons could afford to lose this week if they maintain hopes of making the playoffs.

Digital Jukebox
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— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over Miami, starting with … defense?
— AJC: Tech has a chance to take charge in ACC Coastal
— AJC: Braves should have left Gonzalez decision to new GM
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Tech, UGA win, Falcons continue kindness
— AJC: Are Braves waiting for Dayton Moore?
— MyAJC: Hawks are still playing wrong game off the court
— MyAJC: Falcons’ losses like this are on Mike Smith
— AJC: Falcons: No defense, no line, no chance
— AJC: Live: Falcons face Vikings minus Peterson
— MyAJC: John Hart says Braves ‘lethargic,’ need changes
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons, Dogs win, Rocker loses
— AJC: Braves’ Hart says he would be open to mentoring role
— AJC: Would Braves be better off not going “Braves Way”?
— MyAJC: Georgia is 0-1 but SEC East is still there for taking
— MyAJC: Full column: Frank Wren did a lot right but big things hurt him
— AJC: Quick blog: Frank Wren failed at major decisions
— AJC: Terry McGuirk is on the clock (updated)
— MyAJC: Georgia’s next 7 games are what really counts
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s 66-0 win over Troy
— MyAJC: Falcons now realize they need to step on gas
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons win, Jackets lose, Goodell cowers
— AJC: Braves see Nats celebrate, and Pirates may do same
— MyAJC: Fredi Gonzalez: ‘It’s my team, I take full responsibility’
— AJC: Braves’ opponents often celebrates here
— MyAJC: Falcons let everybody see their ugly side
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ loss to Cincinnati
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech has problems, but it also has Justin Thomas
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s narrow escape
— AJC: Ferry takes leave but Hawks won’t change with this ownership
— AJC: Hawks giving lessons on how not to contain a fire
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Goodell sees alibis, I see Dogs
— AJC:  Goodell was at Masters when Rice video arrived

Reader Comments 0

57 comments
Trainer2013
Trainer2013

"..if they maintain hopes of making the playoffs."


If?


Here's what the Falcons are NOW hoping for:


1) season gets cancelled due to ebola scare

2) NFL decides losses on the road DON'T COUNT

3) Mike Smith gets a clue

4) Fans tell A. Blank, "We'll buy tickets & PSLs even if you don't win another game

5) Teams start to fear Beerman & Worrilow

6) NFL starts playing flag football this weekend

7) Dimitrioff admits to the AJC, "I have no idea what I'm doing and the Falcons are fine with that."


Season's over. Go Tech, Dawgs & KC Royals.

turftoe
turftoe

Lets quit bring up this road thing,if you can win at home you can win on the road as well,thats just an excuse for this pathetic team and coaching.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well the season is all over except for the outcome.  There is always next year, and we get a decent few guys in the draft.  I was thinking 8-8 and not sure if they even get there.


Defense.. the one word the Falcon's need to read up a little on !

Intruder
Intruder

What is there to be optimistic about Blank hiring a new GM and coach. Hasn't he already proven that he knows  no more than drawing names out of a hat.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Nothing has really changed - the Falcons are performing pretty much as expected. Weak o-line, terrible defense. 6-10 team in a year the Division was ripe for the taking. I see it taking two more solid drafts to put them back in playoff contention.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

It's a must-win for Tommy Dummytroff to keep his job. The roster is already depleted like last year and the season's not even to the halfway point! Way to go again Tommy - just like last year. Will take years to recover from the Julio trade.

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

Seriously, folks, find yourself a high school or college team to support, and enjoy watching people play for the love of the game.

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

Does anyone really care anymore about these overpaid clowns?


And a new billion dollar stadium? What a joke.

Esquire
Esquire

Must win?  Jeff, with that last place defense....(yep, just like the Saints were) and that gassed scrub team O line it's more like won't win, not must win.  No reason why Da Bears can't come in here and smoke us at home.  I really think Arthur has just about reached his threshold of irked.  Put a fork in it, 2014 is done.  

Nowayjose9
Nowayjose9

Florida suspends their freshman qb while they investigate a sexual assault. Fsu covers it up and let's them play!

What a pathetic joke fsu is

SeenThatB4
SeenThatB4

LOL @ the falcan'ts!!!

GEAUX SAINTS!!!

Ruffski
Ruffski

@SeenThatB4 Do you copy/paste the same drivel in every blog? Check the stats Loser, Falcons still up on the Aints. Nice OT win vs. TB.... Talk about a struggle against a really bad team.

Savdon
Savdon

Consistency proved! You never fail to suck eggs.

Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

Why is anyone surprised? Look at the free agents they picked up off-season. Nothing to make anyone with any semblance of NFL-watching experience to get excited about. The leadership from that 2012 season is long-gone and lacking. Someone's afraid to spend money I guess. Something tells me the Falcons will sneak up and win 6, possibly 7, but no more. Something else tells me they should look at figuring out how to draft Todd Gurley, but alas, they will pass, even if he is available when it is their pick. Why? Because in 40+ seasons, the Falcons have passed on any and all superstars from Georgia. Reason why I am not much of a fan. Tampa Bay has a much brighter future than the Falcons at this point.

buztech
buztech

The Falcons look desperate every week with their defense and the O line performing like they are.  Even if they pull out a win this Sunday, their season doesn't doesn't look too bright barring a total turnaround on defense.

Oracle
Oracle

let's not forget what the real goal is supposed to be here ....it's not just a competitive season or a playoff apperance... recently most of you were on board that Lombardi trophy bus ...because we locked up Matt Ryan ...so let's not water down the expectations now because the truth is finally at hand .... The truth is that simple pandering by the Arthur and the nfl ....really motivated you in-bred clowns to help Arthur get his new stadium ...... Have you noticed since that stadium deal has been signed ..... There has been no more "referee aided" game winning drives or much winning ...huh??... Simply put ....The way is shut ,it was made by the dead ( which are dumb fans who believed the the Ryan hype ) and the dead don't suffer the living to pass ...and now the falcons fans hopes must die ...

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

@Oracle Truly a 4-Steak post by Mr. Negative's ratings. You left out the transition of the Curse to the new Field of Broken Dreams.

Big Wally
Big Wally

If Harbough is not coming back to San Fran., then our problems are solved.  Hire him, then tell him to pick his GM (can't trust that to Blank, he gets dazzled by hair gel too easily)..  

Savdon
Savdon

@TheBigWally At first I laughed.  Why not Harbaugh to Atlanta?  We need new blood.

JSSN
JSSN

@TheBigWally

Man, this fan base can't handle Harbaugh's personality! They were in full revolt over Mora's standoffishness!

Big Wally
Big Wally

@JSSN @TheBigWally I think the fan base can, not sure the players can.  Not sure I believe the reports from SF, but they are saying that lot of friction between him and his players.  He was successful at Stanford and now at San Fran, who knows.  I think this may be Smith's and Dimitroff's last year, so got to start wondering.

Savdon
Savdon

@JSSN @TheBigWally Yeah, I read about Mora's "Are you talking to meee?!" attitude.  I don't give a rat's behind if a player/FO type gets their feelings hurt.  I believe a great coach, one of the Seven Blocks of Granite, didn't worry much about someone getting butthurt over a comment. 


Fans are experiencing their "Network" moment-and rightly so.

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

Looking at the rest of the schedule I do not really see any winnable games after this weekend's game with Chicago (not even against Tampa Bay since it's on the road) - plus the fact that they have to play 4 of the next five after Sunday on the road makes it doubly difficult to see any wins. 

The defense may be awful but whoever is calling the offensive plays (Dirk or is it really Smitty) also has no clue.  Look for the guys to mail in the next 11 games so as not to get hurt!  So much for being tougher this year...

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I keep hearing from the offensive coordinator and from Mike Smith in his press conference, that Antone Smith deserves more touches. But when they play it doesn't happen. It's seems that every week the sports radio and the media try to spin this thing like the Falcons still have a chance to win the division.  But let's be honest-- it's possible, if they win Sunday. But the reality is----- this team until proven other-wise can't win games on the road. How can they get in the playoffs--- if you can't win on the road? Let alone win a Super bowl. This team isn't built to be able to over come injuries. Yet the Falcons have had devastating injuries two years in a row. I thought the line they assembled, after the Baker lost was starting to find  some continuity. Then three lineman go down. This has to be  one of the most unluckiest  coaches I've ever seen. Most of these guys on defense are just stealing money. They go into every game without any impact on helping the team win games. I' starting to see a pattern like in the playoffs in 2012. where they get a lead in the first half and then lose it in the second half. Teams know they can wear the Falcons down with running the ball down their throat. Especially in the fourth quarter. It's still early-- but maybe this regime has taken the Falcons as far as they can go.....

Williethepimp
Williethepimp

@DarlaLewis That lack of effort on defense has plagued them throughout Smih's tenure. You summarized it pretty well. "Stealing money". That's funny as hell.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

The Falcons couldn't even beat a Panthers team that was something like 1-12 and without a quarterback.  The Falcons could not stop the wildcat.  The Falcons cannot stop the Panthers blitz, where they love to sack Ryan all day long.  At least the real grass is softer to fall on.  Look, the Falcons are half way to having an equal season to last year's record.  Plenty of time left to win 3 games and show improvement.  Heck, if the Braves do that in 2015, they will probably sign Fredi Gonzalez to a lifetime contract (based on the life of Bobby Cox).


Don't forget, one of the Falcons' home games is on the grassy tundra of London.  So, expect an loss there.

Terrytime
Terrytime

Thomas D....go ride a bike with the doper, you sure cant draft talent! you are a bust big boy!

Rickster_
Rickster_

NFC South.... which is the direction the Falcon's season appears to be going.

Terrytime
Terrytime

DOESNT IT LOOK LIKE SMITTY IS ASKING TOM C. "HOW DO YOU GET THAT PASS RUSH WITH A BUNCH OF NO NAME LINEMEN?"

joatl
joatl

Lets focus on winning 5 games, firing TD, getting a real line, and moving forward next year Thats a more realistic achievement.

mecca1220
mecca1220

the jake matthews pick was a HUGE waste of a draft pick....this team hasnt had a dominating defense since smith got here and he is a defensive minded coach ...if you cant stop other teams then your not going to have a chance to win no matter how many points we put up.... we should have picked up more OL in free agency and actually drafted a pass rusher who knows how to get th the qb....everyone wants to criticize mike smith for going for it on 4th and 1 but I had no problem with it... the fact of the matter is that the defense is sooooo atrocious that he had to go for it to give the team a chance.

DrPhill
DrPhill

The Falcons have been sharing the Braves' water cooler.

Gman84
Gman84

Pretty simple really; lose your O-line and you lose your season.

The Falcons next important event is draft day 2015. It will be exciting to see what TD's successor does with their high draft pick.

Oh, and enough with the London thing. There isn’t and will never be some big NFL craze over there. Wonder if the Falcon’s brain-trust noticed that when they gave away that home game, they sealed their fate.

slydawg
slydawg

London is the financial capital of the world. Since all of the owners are billionaires and have financial interests in London, those games will continue. It attracts more foreign investment and sponsorship to the league, the league makes more money, more money for the players, yada yada yada.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

@Gman84 Well the Falcon's never had a defensive line to begin with, and that has plagued them for a LONG time now.

96JB
96JB

It's typical for a NFL coach to last 4 to 6 years. Mike is done. This team is not going to win many....and sadly, they have some good players. They are close. Smitty won't be around to see the results. Don't know if Thomas D survives or not.

FineSwine
FineSwine

Playoffs???  Whose talking about Playoffs?

Third-down
Third-down

@FineSwine  Playoffs!  You joking right?  Only wish I have now is that we get new GM and  coaches to start building a new team and winning when the new dome open.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Looking ahead, I see finishing 6-5 (8-8 overall) as optimistic and 4-7 (6-10 overall) as more realistic. Neither will put us in the playoffs but would hopefully be enough for major change in FB this offseason to get us back on the grid in the future.

seminoleking
seminoleking

what makes anyone think the falcons can win any of their remaining home games?? this is a scrub team. they got lucky and won some close games a couple years ago, now the bare truth of them having shiny wheels ( julio jone, roddy white, harry douglas, devin hester) and no engine ( both lines ) has showed the incompetence of smith and dummytroff......

miked706
miked706

Jeff,

Do any of you writers do any research before final print? The Falcons play the Lions in London on the 26th of October not the 16th. The only good thing out this season will be when I see breaking news on the AJC that Mike Smith and Mike Nolan and the GM all have been fired. The defense is garbage and we have a head coach that will go for it on 4th and 1 of the wrong side of the field but didn't go for it when we were on the goal line twice in the first half. He has become clueless he says the same thing each press conference and this coaching staff doesn't make any changes week to week. If Blank doesn't fire all these clowns that new stadium will be empty. You think the fans are going to pay PSL's to see this team that can't play defense if there life depended on it?

CMPINATL
CMPINATL

@miked706  your right except you forgot no in game adjustments, for 4 years I have noticed the key to beating the falcons is to stay close because at halftime Smith and co make NO adjustments and all you have to do is adjust to what they are doing and start passing against our prevent defense. Mike Smith isn't a gameday coach or he isn't calling for adjustments.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@CMPINATL @miked706 Thank You CMP. If someone would whisper in Smith's ear that making halftime adjustments is actually a thing,we could win games like that. We couldve won that SF playoff game. Its not Ryan,its not blah,blah. It is what you posted,THAT is the problem and its an easy fix. Maybe not for Smith,for someone...

RedoubtSouth
RedoubtSouth

This has pretty much devolved into a place that can't be reckoned with less than a full housecleaning. Mr. Blank should sweep the organization clean from McKay down but, that is highly unlikely. I think the best we will see is a new HC in someone like Koetter who is already under hire and then, another losing season and another firing to follow. Almost like the Smiths still were the owners here. 

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

@RedoubtSouth I don't see any temporary moves like that coming this offseason.  Blank is between a rock and a hard place with the timing of new stadium PSL sales and the current direction of the team and my bet is he either sticks with status quo or decides to make wholesale changes at season's end.  Those are the only two viable business options that could result in a positive atmosphere for selling PSLs next year.  The first option is riskier because he's betting that Smith & co get things turned around quickly.  If it works, he can command higher prices for the PSLs; if it doesn't, he'll be selling PSLs to an apathetic fan base.   The second option is less risky from the standpoint that major change is the popular choice among fans and that his marketing dept would prefer building the PSL sales pitch around future possibilities versus present realities.  The downside to this option is that it doesn't create PSL urgency since good tickets are typically available on the secondary markets during the initial years of a team rebuild. 

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

AB is not going to look the other way this year.  This was the year!!

Football Redneck
Football Redneck

You gotta have a head coach that can coach up not down.Smitty is the Ernest T Bass of coaches.Can't wait til the day he's fired!