Bottom-Dwelling Atlanta Falcons Playing For Pride Against Carolina

Falcons QB Matt Ryan

Atlanta Falcons fans have realized this season is circling the drain. At this point, the Falcons can really only hope to play the spoiler role and watch the NFL post-season from the couch.

It’s both encouraging and further disheartening that four of Atlanta’s five losses came in one-score games. Week 1, it was a field goal’s difference to NFC South leading-New Orleans. The Falcons bounced back in Week 2, however, with a 31-24 win over the equally-dismal St. Louis Rams. Atlanta’s three-game skid against Miami, New England and New York mercifully came to a halt against the miserable Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the only teams not to beat the Buccaneers are the ones that haven’t played them. A week later, it’s another Falcons loss, this time to the middling Arizona Cardinals.

Falcons fans’ frustrations stem from the fact that they’re losing close games to bad teams; the only squads to hold a win over Atlanta and a winning record are the Saints and the Patriots. So accepting those two losses, it’s not unreasonable to suggest the Atlanta Falcons could be sitting 5-2. Should be sitting 5-2, instead of 2-5.

Realistically for Falcons faithful, the only thing on the line the rest of the year is pride. Atlanta needs to show up and remind opponents they’re still here. When it comes to the surging Carolina Panthers, Atlanta has to play to its strengths. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan might have earned a 47.2 rating last week but he still throws for an average of 300 yards per game and Atlanta is in the NFL’s top 5 for passing. He may be missing targets in Julio Jones and Roddy White but he’s still got Old Faithful, Tony Gonzalez. For now, at least. Regardless, the passing game is still the Atlanta Falcons best weapon. Or, averaging a league-last 62.4 yards, maybe it’s their only weapon.

Defensively, Atlanta has to find a way to contain the Panthers’ run game. The good news is that powerhouse DeAngelo Williams is questionable for the game, with a bruised quad suffered against Tampa Bay. Behind him, QB Cam Newton is second in rushing. If the struggling Atlanta defense can show up, it can at least be entertaining.

Is 2013 truly a lost cause for Atlanta? What do the Falcons need to improve? Will Tony Gonzalez be traded by the Atlanta Falcons?