For the first time since 2009, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves very close to being eliminated from playoff contention. With seven games remaining in the regular season, the “Dirty Birds,” now 2-7, also find themselves facing the possibility of having their first losing season since 2007.
Talk about turnarounds.
After Sunday’s lopsided 33-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the team they defeated in last season’s divisional playoff contest, the Falcons have to be feeling the pressure, particularly knowing that they are currently 0-4 on the road this season, and that four of the remaining seven contests will be played away from home.
However, Coach Mike Smith isn’t admitting his team is contemplating not being in the playoffs just yet.
“We’re going to play every game to win. …We can’t worry about the playoff picture, all we can worry about is the next day,” Smith contends. “…we have to go day by day to get this thing turned around.
But what else is a coach supposed to say about his team at this point?
It is what it is.
Back in 2009, a marginally close outcome in Week 15 bumped Atlanta from post-season play, despite a win against the New York Jets. The wildcard slot was subsequently captured by the Dallas Cowboys after their win over the New Orleans Saints. But at least that year Atlanta posted a 9-7 record, barely tilting the win-loss pendulum, but still doing so.
However, that was then, and this is now.
Impact Record Has On New Stadium
It’s fair to say it’s a good thing the Falcons’ misfortunes this season happened well after the new Falcons’ Stadium deal took shape. Otherwise, opponents of the new venue would have had another point against its proposed construction.
Reportedly, the city and state are finalizing negotiations to buy the land sought for the “futuristic-looking” stadium that will have a retractable, eight-piece roof that will twist closed, like an iris diaphragm. The cost: $200 million for construction and millions more to operate.
But would the public – or even city and state officials – have even considered the idea for the new stadium if the Falcons had not captured the divisional playoff title last season and been seen as a Super Bowl contender this year?
I think not.
As one fan put it after viewing the proposed stadium plans: “a model can’t predict attendance.”
Woes of “13″ Affecting Others
The good news is the Falcons aren’t the only team struggling in 2013, particularly among those who were predicted to do well this year. That includes the Super Bowl XLVII Champion Baltimore Ravens, now standing at 4-5. The bad news is, that may in itself cause a bottleneck at the end of the season similar to 2009 among lukewarm teams like the Packers (5-4), New York Giants (3-6), and the Cowboys and Eagles, who are both at 5-5.
Atlanta currently stands third in the divisional conference race, but more importantly, have two more division games, against the Saints on Nov. 21, and the Panthers on Dec. 29, the regular-season finale. And there are currently 13 teams in the NFC that have better records than the Falcons at this point.
Two more losses for the Falcons could mean “lights out” for the Birds in post-season play. And if not making the playoffs isn’t bad enough, the team also runs the risk of dropping below the .500 mark needed to claim a winning 2013 campaign.
Definitely another turnaround is needed!
Deitra P. Johnson covers sports for ADW.