Jeff Schultz

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

Falcons turned this week into must-win game

This isn't a question I generally ask in the first week of October: But is it possible the Falcons' season will come down to the next game?

They're 2-3. That's not great but it's also not end-of-the-world stuff because they play in the NFC South, which is the NFL's Mediocrity Central. Carolina is in first place at 3-2, and the Panthers have a net points differential of minus-16.

The Falcons' problem -- well, one of their problems -- is they can't win on the road. They're 0-3 this season, 1-10 over the last two and have lost 10 straight games outdoors (going back to a Nov. 25, 2012 win over Tampa Bay, which also was the last time they beat a .500 or better team on the road).

This season, the Falcons have lost at Cincinnati, Minnesota and New York. In the Stats That Matter Dept.: They've been outscored 51-28 in the second half of those games, including 27-0 in the fourth quarter in the last two weeks.

This week, the Falcons are at home against Chicago. A loss would drop them to 2-4. If you presume it's going to take a 9-7 record to win the division, that would necessitate them going 7-3 in final 10 games. I have a difficult time seeing this team going 7-3 in any 10 game stretch, especially given that it's 1-10 on the road since the 2013 season and has dropped 10 straight outdoors.

The Falcons have only seven real home games this season because they gave one away to play in London (against Detroit on Oct. 16). Even sweeping their seven Georgia Dome games, including Chicago this week, gets them to only seven wins.

After this week, the Falcons travel to Baltimore, then London for the Detroit game, then Tampa Bay, then Carolina. They're not back at home until Nov. 23 against Cleveland.

If you wondered how a situation could look desperate after only five games, that's how. It's why I don't think the Falcons could afford to lose this week if they maintain hopes of making the playoffs.

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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.