For the Falcons, these next three games should tell the tale

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers know they’ve got their work cut out this week against the Atlanta Falcons. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Will his success at the Dome be insured? (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

The guess here is that the Atlanta Falcons won’t let us linger in suspense. After these next three games, we should know if they’re playoff-bound or … well, bound for that place where Falcons teams go after fooling us for a while. They play the Packers at the Dome on Sunday. Then they visit Tampa for a Thursday night game. Then they head for Philadelphia.

After that, the bye week arrives. By then, we should know something. If the Falcons can win two of these three, they’ll be 6-4 with four home games remaining. If one of the two victories is over the Buccaneers, they’ll have strengthened their already-strong position in the NFC South. (Key point: The Bucs, who won here on Opening Day, would no longer hold the tiebreaker over the Falcons.)

Those final six games aren’t easy: Cardinals and Chiefs here, Rams way out there, 49ers here (OK, that one should be easy), Panthers in Charlotte on Christmas Eve, Saints here on New Year’s Day. But only one of those six teams is above. 500. If they can be 6-4 with those six remaining, they should be fine.

If they lose two of the next three, the outlook isn’t as sunny. That would make four losses in five games for a team that — stop me if you’ve heard this — collapsed at a similar stage last year. That would make them 5-5 after being 4-1. That would give doubters even more reason to doubt.

Sunday’s game is intriguing. The Packers have run out of running backs. (With Eddie Lacy and James Starks hurt, they traded for Knile Davis, who’d had one carry this season with the Chiefs.) Aaron Rodgers ranks 21st among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating. Green Bay is coming off a four-game Lambeau run that saw them beat the Lions, the Giants and the Bears but lose by two touchdowns to the Cowboys.

A lot of folks look at the Packers and think, “They’ve got Rodgers, so they’ll be fine.” And they might. Green Bay has made the playoffs six years running. But only once since its Super Bowl season of 2010 — that included the epic 48-21 demolition of the Falcons in the division round — has it reached the NFC title game.

After two excruciating losses, this would be a nice game for the Falcons to win, especially since they have to play again four days later. I’m thinking they will. Win, I mean.

Super fun reading:

A fascinating Falcons preview from Milwaukee’s McGinn.

Owing to their bad defense, the Falcons suffer a bad loss.

Playoffs? The Falcons are almost halfway there.

An unscripted Dan Quinn is an impressive Dan Quinn.

Dan Quinn’s Falcons are “coming together.”

The Falcons didn’t win, but they made one guy believe (me).

The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud.

Having taken down Denver, the 4-1 Falcons head to Seattle.

The Falcons rock a rookie in the Rockies.

The Falcons look great. (Didn’t we say that last year?)

Reader Comments 0

12 comments
Rhetoric
Rhetoric

Falcons need to score a TD after that stop.

DoubleSubject
DoubleSubject

Troy Aikman is the absolutely the worst announcer, color man,or whatever in football. He was a good quarterback during the day, but needs now to go home and sit down.

TideDawg
TideDawg

The Falcons couldn't beat San Diego and Green Bay certainly isn't San Diego....they're better! Looks like another promising start is going to turn into a disappointment...again. I still can't understand why a team that's winning a game would go into a "prevent" defense when their defense had been winning all day. Somebody explain to me what it is that they're trying to prevent. An experienced QB like Rivers will pick a "prevent" apart. I'm a Falcon fan, I pull for them to win, but at times it's like trying to negotiate the rapids paddling up stream. Frustrating! When so much goes wrong, I don't know who to blame anymore. It's like the team has a dual personality......one plays great for 56 minutes and one that takes over with 4 mins. left in the game and says "so what, who cares if we let them score". I think the NFL should have a playoff at the end of the season for the bottom half of the league.....call it the "pooper bowl" to find out which team is the number one "Mediocre Team" in the NFL. Awwh heck! Just venting my frustrations.....probably brought on by the Dawgs being mediocre.

DawgNole
DawgNole

"For the Falcons, these next three games should tell the tale"

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I'm afraid that, for the Falcons, those last TWO games have told the tale.

jmccoy1252
jmccoy1252

This is not the same Packers in years past.  This is a very winnable game.

E983
E983

The last two games are a possible a picture of the next three. For some reason the refs refuse to make the PI calls on opposing teams.  If it's the same then oh well. just another lost season.

JB Falcon
JB Falcon

Wow, I've tried posting a comment on four different articles and this is the only one that didn't fail. Good article Mark, as always, and I too think the Falcons must win this game.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

Starting with the Packers, I like their chances. Especially if the get Aldrick Robinson and Taylor Gabriel out in space. Julio should get his and Sanu must play better. If the defense plays hard for four quarters making plays.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@DarlaLewis That may work unless the Falcons go into their "prevent us from winning" defense.