the Atlanta Falcons Staying in the thick of the NFC South picture must be a source of torture for the team’s fans. Two weeks ago they were 6-6 and alone at the top of the division. After an ugly 9-7 loss to the previously 1-12 Carolina Panthers, Atlanta is now 6-8 and a full game behind the Carolina Panthers. New Orleans Saints And Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was a rainy, ugly, empty afternoon in Charlotte — less than a four-hour drive from Atlanta — on Sunday. Tickets were sold for as low as $0.45. The free ticket would have been too expensive to sit outside in the rain and watch these two teams play bad football.
The Falcons only managed one drive that didn’t end in a turnover or punt. Desmond Reeder threw for 152 yards — 56 of which came on a Jonnu Smith completion late in the second quarter. They gained 204 total yards on the day. In the second half, the Falcons offense did not score a single point and totaled 67 yards.
They also turned the ball over on their last two drives of the game. Then, to put the final stink on a very large turd sundae, the Falcons finished the game by allowing the league’s worst offense to march down the field on a 17-play, 90-yard drive that soaked up the final seven-and-a-half minutes off the clock. The Panthers kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
For weeks on end, the Falcons have been bombarded by a division rival. They put together an impressive comeback effort against the Buccaneers in Week 14, scoring a combined 15 points on their first two drives of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for them, they allowed the Bucs to score on both downs. Yes, standing short of the end zone was laughably stupid for the Falcons, but the better team won that game.
Tampa isn’t a special team, but Carolina is having a season worthy of the No. 1 overall pick. There will be no franchise pick, as he was traded to the Chicago Bears. The Panthers have lost by double digits seven times this season. If there was ever a week the Falcons used to chase a division title, it was Week 15.
Instead, the Panthers improved to 2-12. This is the kind of loss that could tip the bet into the season’s turn for a team, except for the fact that the Falcons can’t lose enough to eliminate themselves from playoff contention. Their last three regular season games were vs Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and saints. Falcons fans shouldn’t feel confident about the team’s future, but the season isn’t over yet.
For at least another week, the Falcons will be fighting for their lives in the playoffs. Another week in which the Falcons can drag their fans through the mire of faint postseason hope by virtue of playing in the worst division in the NFL.
Another chance to continue the season would thankfully be better snuffed out.