We concede that’s it early. Were it any earlier, they’d still be playing exhibitions. But they aren’t, and therein hangs a tale. The Atlanta Falcons weren’t expected to win many games, and they’ve already lost one most picked them to win. And here, since you asked, is the upshot.
Having sifted data and suchlike, our friends at Football Outsiders give the Falcons a better chance of picking No. 1 in the 2017 draft (7.1 percent) than making the 2016 playoffs (2.4 percent). For the Falcons, Football Outsiders has lowered its “mean wins” calculation from the 7.3 of preseason to 6.2. Only Miami (5.8 mean wins) and Cleveland (4.9) rank lower.
We all overreact to pretty much everything, be it stirring wins or excruciating losses. If the Falcons win the next five games, we’ll forget what happened Sunday against Tampa Bay. But that’s the thing: The Falcons aren’t apt to win many of the next five. Even if they go 2-3, they’ll be hard-pressed to break .500 on the season. Beyond this opening stretch, they still have to face Green Bay, Arizona and Carolina in Charlotte. (And they’re already 0-1 in the NFC South; they were 1-5 last season.)
That’s how massive Sunday’s result was, or at least seems. If the loss had been out of character, we might be tempted to call it an any-given-Sunday one-off. But it wasn’t. It was entirely in keeping with last season. They’d better do better soon.
Super informative reading: