It’s not a must win, but it’ll be pretty bad for both teams if they don’t win.
How about that for a change of pace? I actually get to write this article with the team coming off of a meaningful win! That’s happened just once in the past two years, as the games stopped being about even a dim playoff hope after the 0-5 start last year and the 1-7 start in 2019.
Even though it wasn’t the most complete effort, the Falcons got the job done on the road against the New York Giants. We saw a vintage performance from Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter, and a game-changing impact from Dante Fowler Jr. in the same period to help catapult the Birds to a game-winning 10-0 run to win the game.
Sitting at 1-2 is by no means enviable for Atlanta, but it would have been catastrophic for this team to be 0-3 at this point. The Falcons are already in an early season hole that they are working hard to dig out of. Washington also comes into this game at 1-2 and in their own hole. Both of these teams will look to throw more dirt at the other.
Let’s take a look at circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Washington Football Team in Week 4, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
Momentum will be rampant. Nothing eases the tension of an NFL season like stringing a few victories together. This will be the first time the Falcons will have strung two wins in a row before the month of November since the 2018 season.
Suddenly, the Falcons will go from a team on the cusp of seeing the season lost in its early days to a team at .500 with some hope of maybe even making a run at the playoffs. Things can change quickly in the NFL.
Atlanta will position itself to be in a really good spot going into the bye week. Next week, the 0-3 and seemingly hapless New York Jets will be on the schedule, setting the Birds up to head into the bye at above .500 for the first time since 2017.
Arthur Smith and Dean Pees will continue earning the kind of trust from the fanbase that only comes with getting wins. The bar is set so low in Atlanta, after how bad the end to the Dan Quinn era was, that it won’t take a Herculean coaching effort to clear it. They just have to be competitive the rest of the way.
If the Falcons lose
A lot of the goodwill and momentum from the victory in New York will be lost. The first quarter of the season — featuring arguably the three weaker NFC East team — was one of the lighter parts of the schedule, and Atlanta will exit it with a paltry 1-3 record.
While that game against the Jets in London should be a win on paper, the pressure to come back home from across the pond with a victory will be monumental as there really won’t be anything more to look for if the Falcons sit at 1-4 going into that bye week.
Matt Ryan will lose his first game ever to the Washington, after compiling a 5-0 record against that franchise in his career. This will also break a string of six consecutive victories for the Falcons in the series, and it will grow Washington’s all time series lead to 16-10-1.