Posted: 8:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013
By Dave Choate
With a 1-3 record on the season and the bye week approaching, I thought this was a useful time to look at the NFC South schedule going forward and figure out if the Falcons have a reasonable chance of turning this one around.
Here's the schedule in full:
Perusing this schedule, it's not hard to see the Falcons turning things around in the next few weeks. The Jets, Bucs and Cardinals are all mediocre teams or worse this year, and the Falcons get two of them at home. Playing on the road against the Panthers won't necessarily be easy, but the Panthers are still coached by Ron Rivera.
After that, things get interesting. The Seahawks aren't the same team on the road, so that's winnable if the Falcons make course corrections over the next five weeks. The Bucs are a mess and are likely to still be. The Saints at home, the Packers on the Road and the 49ers on the road are the three truly difficult matchups in the second half of the season, though the Panthers, Redskins and Bills aren't to be taken lightly.
Ultimately, this season could break a few different ways. The Falcons could reel off a four game winning streak and move to 5-3 before they have to play the Seahawks at home, and they could take advantage of the home game against the Seahawks and the struggling Bucs to roll to 7-3. From there, playing .500 ball the rest of the way would get them to 10-6, which should be good for a Wild Card. They could do even better than that if 'Spoon, Jackson and others come back and contribute at a high level.
They could also scuffle, drop their road games to the Cardinals and Panthers and wind up at 3-5. That means they're facing an uphill battle with three very, very rough games in the second half. In this scenario, if they lost all three of the Saints/Packers/49ers games, the best they could hope for would be 8-8. That means a very disappointing season and some rough conversations in the off-season.
This could go either way. If the Falcons can make small but tangible improvements across the board, they can probably start ripping off some wins. If they continue to be mired in the morass of poor execution, questionable coaching and lousy red zone play, things could continue to go south.
Your thoughts on the schedule?