The 2015 Atlanta Falcons season was unpredictable. Most people know that this team won its first 5 games, then blew 8 of the remaining eleven to finish 8-8. Fewer realize that we went so far as to turn in among the best and worst performances of any team in the NFL. We dealt the Panthers their only defeat and beat a Houston team that finished 9-7 so bad that we didn’t even play our starters for an entire quarter. We also got held to 16 points by San Francisco’s bottom-of-the-barrel defense and may have set a new record (38-0) in Carolina for worst defeat in franchise history.
In short, there were games that in which New England couldn’t have beaten the Falcons. There were also games in which the Browns could have.
Which team will we see this year? That depends on the quarterback, Matt Ryan. Matty Ice used to be viewed as one of the better quarterbacks if not a elite one in the making. Then he had a bad year in 2015, becoming a turnover machine who couldn’t score in the red zone. It’s widely
believed that this was because our new offensive Coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, changed the offensive scheme to a West Coast offense that relies on fake-outs and quick, on the fly, play. Ryan seemed lost in this new environment. He seemed to have finally adjusted in the last three games.
But then came the 2016 preseason, in which Ryan completed less than half of his passes, no touchdowns, and an interception.
It’s at this point that I caution people that preseason could be, and often is, misleading. Carolina’s week three dress rehearsal was a disaster, but nobody believes that they won’t have a good year. Our 2014 week three preseason game had great play from the starters before we went 6-10. Tom Brady had an awful 2015 preseason only to nearly reach the Super Bowl. That same year, the Eagles went 7-9 after looking (and being hyped by some as) Super Bowl contenders.
But if the preseason woes do carry over to the regular season, our home opener winning streak
will be ended by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If not, I don’t think the Bucs can withstand the kind of offense that appeared in last year’s 5-0 start.
Actually, that’s not really the tale of the season. I could see it being 12-4. I could also see it being 4-12. The first answer comes on Sunday.