Predicting the Outcome of Every Remaining Game on the Falcons 2013 Schedule
A little over two months later, the Falcons are 2-5 following Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Atlanta's toughest critics couldn't have imagined that Atlanta's offensive line play would be as inadequate as it's been, and no prediction can account for injuries.
With nine weeks left in the season, we decided to give ourselves a mulligan and project how the Falcons will finish the year based on what we've seen from this group so far (Hint: we don't see them going 11-5 anymore).
Let's start with this week's game at Carolina.
Week 9 at Carolina Panthers
Carolina has won three straight games and it's had some extra time to get ready for this divisional matchup after playing at Tampa Bay last Thursday night.
While some may be tempted to look at Carolina's four wins (NYG, MIN, STL and TB) and say "they haven't played anybody," remember that Atlanta isn't necessarily "anybody," since the 2-5 Falcons live in the same neighborhood in the standings as the four losing teams the Panthers have already beaten.
Carolina has a defensive front that is as good as or better than Arizona's. The game will be competitive, but Cam Newton will make a couple of plays with his arm against an inconsistent Atlanta defense to seal the deal in the end for the Panthers.
Week 10 vs. Seattle Seahawks
Upset special here. The Seahawks aren't the same team away from CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Other than dominating Arizona in the desert (Seattle has had Arizona's number in recent years), the Seahawks have played three tight games on the road in Houston, Indianapolis and this past Monday night in St. Louis against Kellen Clemens and the Rams.
Sure, Seattle wants to get its revenge for last season's playoff loss, but in this case the competition and desire to avoid being embarrassed at home brings the best out of Atlanta and the Falcons play their best game of the season.
The Falcons are capable of an upset or two down the stretch, and we project that they'll get one here against Seattle.
Week 11 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta wins two straight games for the first time this season by taking care of a Bucs squad that may or may not be coached by Greg Schiano at this point.
Schiano or not, the Bucs could easily be 0-9 (at SEA, vs. MIA) when this game is played before what's likely to be a sparse, irritable crowd in Tampa.
This is simply a matter of the Falcons beating an inferior Bucs team that could be in more disarray than it was when it came to the Georgia Dome earlier this month.
Week 12 vs. New Orleans Saints
This is the biggest game left on Atlanta's schedule. Whether the Falcons come into the game at 4-6 or 2-8, beating the Saints on national television would take a good bit of stink off of this season for a couple of weeks.
Back in 2009, a Chris Redman-led Falcons team nearly beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Saints at the Georgia Dome. Last season, the then-3-5 Saints handed the 8-0 Falcons their first loss.
You can do away with records when these two teams get together.
Atlanta finds a way to win a tight one and give its fans a glimmer of hope going into the last five weeks of the season.
Week 13 at Buffalo Bills
The AFC East's run of dominance over the Falcons ends this week. Atlanta takes a business-like approach into Toronto and beats Buffalo thanks to a defense that plays the way it did against Tampa Bay in Week 7.
Week 14 at Green Bay Packers
This is the closest the Falcons get to the playoffs. After getting to .500, the Falcons avoid being flexed out of their Sunday night slot against the Packers.
That's about all that goes right for Atlanta as all of its demons from earlier in the season return and the team lays another prime-time egg. The Packers roll to a victory because their offense can run and pass and Atlanta's can't.
Week 15 vs. Washington Redskins
In a matchup of two of the season's most disappointing teams, the Falcons win a squeaker over the Skins because Washington's defense isn't able to keep Matt Ryan and the Falcons' passing game in check.
At 7-7, Atlanta still hopes to keep its consecutive winning seasons streak alive by winning its next two games.
Week 16 at San Francisco 49ers
This was supposed to be a marquee matchup, but the 2013 NFL season had other plans for the Falcons. Atlanta shows some fight, but the team is simply overmatched in the trenches once again.
San Francisco holds serve and wins the last game at Candlestick Park by outgaining the Falcons on the ground and getting after Matt Ryan.
Week 17 vs. Carolina Panthers
The Falcons do all they can to finish 8-8, but in a close game that plays out much like many we've seen this year, the Falcons just aren't able to make the plays that are there tomake.
Carolina wins a game it needs and exorcises some of its own demons in Atlanta, while Tony Gonzalez's Hall of Fame career ends with a loss.
Now it's your turn. How do you see the Falcons finishing the season?