Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Falcons' history shows no correlation between preseason, regular season records


The Falcons are 0-2 in exhibition games, so this seems like a good time to remind you of a few things: 1) Falcons' history shows there's no correlation between preseason and regular season results; 2) New England also is 0-2 and nobody is assuming they're collapsing; 3) the Los Angeles Rams are 2-0 and nobody is assuming they're a title team.

The Falcons' starting offense and defense have looked good in two games. Matt Ryan is 7-for-9 for 89 yards, one touchdown and a rating of 144.9. Matt Simms (25 for 49), who won't likely make the final roster, and Alex Torgerson (7 for 13) have both attempted more passes than Ryan or No. 2 Matt Schaub (3 for 3).

If there's a concern, it's that the second tier of offensive linemen have not played well.

OK, onto past preseasons.

The Falcons have made the playoffs 13 times in franchise history. Only twice in those 13 seasons did the team have a winning record in the preseason. They had losing records three times and went 2-2 eight times. The breakdown:

• Winning preseason records (2): The Falcons went 3-1 in exhibitions last season when they finished 11-5 and went to the Super Bowl. They also went 4-0 in 2002, which was Michael Vick’s first full season as a starting quarterback. They went 9-6-1 in the regular season and won a playoff game at Green Bay.

•  Losing preseason records (3): The team made the playoffs three times in seasons they had losing preseason records: 1980 (going 12-4 after a 1-3 preseason record), 2011 (going 10-6 after going 0-4 in the preseason) and 2012 (13-3 after 1-3). The Falcons also went to the NFC title game in 2012.

•  Going .500 in the preseason (8): The Falcons went 2-2 in exhibitions eight times but made the playoffs in 1978, 1982, 1991, 1995, 1998, 2004, 2008 and 2010. They finished 14-2 and went to the Super Bowl in 1998 and went to the NFC title game in 2004.

Here’s a breakdown of the Falcons' best and worst preseasons:

•  Best: They went 4-0 in exhibitions in 1990, 4-1 in 2000, 4-0 in 2002 and 4-1 in 2005. In only one of those four seasons did they make the playoffs (2002). In the other three, they finished 5-11 (1990), 4-12 (2000) and 8-8 (2005).

•  Worst: They went 0-4 in exhibitions in 2003, 2011 and 2013. They finished the regular season 10-6 and made the playoffs in 2011. They failed to make the playoffs in the other two seasons (5-11 in 2003, 4-12 in 2013).

Now, if you’re determined for a reason to worry, here it is. I looked at the last 20 Super Bowl winners – that’s as far as I felt like going – to see if there was any correlation to preseason records. Results:

•  Of the past 20 Super Bowl winners, 12 had winning records in the preseason, five went 2-2 and only three had losing records.

New England went 3-1 last season. Bu the Patriots also went only 2-2 in their 2014 title season, and in consecutive championship seasons of 2003 and 2004, they went 4-0 and 1-3, respectively. in the preseason. No consistency.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.