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BY DAVID SCHIELE
This is for all of the Atlanta Falcons fans that, for some reason, still believe there is a deep playoff run within the 2018 Dirty Birds: Stop it.
Just stop it.
You are deluding yourself by thinking the Falcons could even sniff the possibility of hosting their own Super Bowl in early February of next year. And before you come crashing down on me and add me to the list of Falcons haters, I’m a fan. I’m actually a die-hard Falcons fan.
However, Ryan does not play defense. That may come as a shock to those who believe every loss is the fault of the veteran quarterback, but I’ll save that column for another day.
The Falcons defense is the reason Atlanta has no chance of playing for the Lombardi Trophy.
For starters, the injuries to the defensive unit happened to the most critical guys. Linebacker Deion Jones and strong safety Keanu Neal are the heart and soul of the Atlanta defense. Although Jones will return in a few weeks, Neal won’t see any action until next season while he recovers from a torn ACL. That brings us to full safety Ricardo Allen, who is the brains of the group. He went down in Week Three against the New Orleans Saints with a torn Achilles tendon, and the Atlanta secondary has encountered miscommunications and blow assignments ever since.
The heart, soul and brains…gone.
That’s brutal, and it’s shown on the field.
In consecutive weeks, the crippled Falcons defense allowed 43 points to the Saints, 37 points to Cincinnati Bengals and 41 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers, all of which resulted in losses.
Now get this:
Although they won, the Falcons’ previous two contests against the average-at-best Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Horrific New York Giants were quite lucky.
Had Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans tossed a more accurate lateral to teammate DeSean Jackson, you have a miracle win for Tampa Bay.
With poor coaching, clock management and a rare dropped catch by the usually sure-handed Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants practically beat themselves in Week Seven.
Plus, despite that crucial drop on a two-point conversion in the second half, Beckham Jr. still tallied over 100 receiving yards that Monday night, as well as his receiving-mate Sterling Shepard.
Imagine that Falcons defense in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Rams or the Kansas City Chiefs or the New England Patriots that boast offenses averaging 30 points per game or higher. Then think about how each of those teams has a solid defense as well, making things difficult for the second coming of MVP Matt Ryan.
Yep, no chance.
So what should you do as a Falcons fan? Just enjoy the rest of the 2018 season. With a third-place schedule, Atlanta doesn’t face another daunting task, except playing in New Orleans on Thanksgiving night. Expect to see some entertaining football game, but don’t think you’ll see this team go deep into January.
Oh, and while all of this is unfolding down the stretch for your Falcons, try to avoid recalling Super Bowl 51.
You know, 28-3.
David Schiele is a journalism major and an African American studies minor at Georgia State University, graduating in December. He’s the former sports director of GSU’s student TV station. In his free time, David watches pro wrestling, plays video games, and reads. Follow him on twitter @Deacon_Schiele