Poll: Falcons trying to buck playoff odds (what say you?)

Ray Edwards may have just looked at the Falcons' playoff odds. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Ray Edwards may have just looked at the Falcons' playoff odds. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If the Falcons’ season isn’t yet kaput at 2-3, history suggests they’re at least battling some long odds just to make the playoffs.

You’re not going to read any of these numbers in team-approved literature this week. But I just took a walk through franchise history — being very careful where to step — and will now bring you some of that ugly reality:

This is 30th time in 46 seasons the Falcons have started a season 2-3 or worse. Only three times in the previous 29 occasions did the team make the playoffs. That equates to a 10.3 percent chance of reaching the postseason.

The odds are slightly better if you count only 16-game seasons. The Falcons failed to make the playoffs any of the 10 years they started 2-3 or worse in 14-game seasons. They’ve reached the postseason in three of 19 16-game seasons with such a start — 15.8 percent.

Because all three Falcons’ losses are conference games, they’re already in a steep hole in the wild card chase. The 2-3 (.400) record in NFC games ranked them 11th out of 16 teams in the conference, before Monday night’s Detroit-Chicago game.

Do you think Falcons will make playoffs?

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Good news? Well, there’s this: Strangely, in each of the three seasons the Falcons reached the postseason after a poor start, they actually won a playoff game.

In 1978 under Leeman Bennett, Atlanta started 2-3 but finished 9-7 to make the playoffs, defeated Philadelphia in the first round but then lost to Dallas.

In 1991 under Jerry Glanville, the team finished 10-6 after a 2-3 start, upset division winner New Orleans on the road in the first round, but was eliminated the following week at Washington.

The last time the Falcons’ started this poorly and made the playoffs? It was Michael Vick’s first full season as a starter in 2002. They went from 2-3 to 9-6-1 under Dan Reeves and upset the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs before losing to Philadelphia.

Below are the previous 29 seasons the Falcons have started 2-3 or worse, and how they ended up.

Do you think the Falcons will still make the playoffs? Commenting is now open, and there’s a poll up. (As for my opinion: Yes, they’re still a playoff team. But get back to me in two weeks.)

Year    Start    Finish
1966     0-5      3-11
1967    0-4-1    1-12-1
1968    1-4       2-12
1969    2-3       6-8
1970    2-3       4-8-2
1971    1-3-1    7-6-1
1973    2-3      9-5
1974    2-3     3-11
1975    2-3     4-10
1976    1-4     4-10
1978    2-3     9-7 (made playoffs)
1983    2-3     7-9
1984    2-3     4-12
1985    0-5     4-12
1987    2-3     3-12
1988    1-4     5-11
1989    1-4     3-13
1990    2-3     5-11
1991    2-3     10-6 (made playoffs)
1992    2-3     6-10
1993    0-5     6-10
1996    0-5     3-13
1997    0-5     7-9
1999    1-4     5-11
2000    2-3     4-12
2001    2-3     7-9
2002    2-3     9-6-1 (made playoffs)
2003    1-4     5-11
2007    1-4     4-12

By Jeff Schultz

343 comments Add your comment

Some guy

October 10th, 2011
6:28 pm

Intown

October 10th, 2011
6:32 pm

Nope. They stink.

Great Falconi

October 10th, 2011
6:33 pm

Jeff,

What is the percentage of NFL teams making the playoffs after posting a 2-3 record? I get the angle you’re taking, though.

A dose of reality

October 10th, 2011
6:35 pm

The Falcon’s chances of making the playoffs are about as good as Israel Troupe’s chances of going a whole game without watering the hedges in Sanford & Son Stadium.

Or Isaiah Crowell passing a real college course.

Or Mark Richt giving up his $10,000 a day job. :-)

tonyb

October 10th, 2011
6:38 pm

They are leaving themselves very little room for error. The schedule does soften up after this tough first 5. But unless they can lose this Jekyll and Hyde routine and find consistency, they are at best an 8-8 team. The issue that I see is that they have serious flaws in the O Line and secondary, and those are not easily fixable. They need to get to 10 to have a real chance, and it seems there are alot of NFC teams that are going to be bunch up with mediocre records. So if Falcons can find a way to survive a few games and pull out wins, they have a chance.

Bob in SF

October 10th, 2011
6:40 pm

Lets take a reasonable (IMHO) look at the rest of the schedule:
Carolina- W; Cam not quite there yet
@ Detroit- L; Dunta and Grimes vs. Megatron? Next.
@ Indy- W; Indy “suck for Luck” continues
Nawlins – W; Win at home in close one
Tennessee- W; Hard fought win
Minny – W; Petersen has good day, Birds hang on
@ Houston – L; Schaub lights his old team up
@ Carolina – L; Cam has a huge day at home
Jax- W; Smitty Has his boys up for his old team + Jax isn’t very good
@ Nawlins – L; Nawlins wins in the Super Dome clinching South
TB – W; Dirty Birds cling to playoff hopes but conference tie breakers doom them
I see 9-7 and missing the wild card.

Ted M

October 10th, 2011
6:40 pm

no playoffs this season. But I think we’ll beat the Panthers Sunday. Even that might just be wishful thinking.

The Falcons never win big. When they do win its almost always a squeaker.

Jeff Schultz

October 10th, 2011
6:43 pm

Great Falconi — No way I could do that research on my own. Not sure if league or Elias keeps it, haven’t checked.

Ted M

October 10th, 2011
6:43 pm

New Orleans beat us twice this year.

Heath

October 10th, 2011
6:52 pm

Odds seem a little long. With the Bucs playing well, even a 10-6 may not get us in. Anybody see 8 more wins on this schedule? Not me. 9-7 if they win one they shouldn’t

Heath

October 10th, 2011
6:54 pm

Someone, anyone, respond to Dose’s idiocy so he can die in peace.

Tech75

October 10th, 2011
7:12 pm

I don’t see them in the playoffs.

No way. Too many O-Line issues, and Turner is no Burner any longer. Heck, he has a hard time even making it to the line of scrimmage.

Ryan’s got that deer-in-the-headlights look. Hit him a couple of times and he loses his confidence.

For this team to make the payoffs, they HAVE to be able to run the ball consistently, and they don’t seem able to do that this year. Maybe too many injuries, whatever. The backups at center and guard ain’t getting it done; now Ryan’s a headcase…

JSS

October 10th, 2011
7:14 pm

The Falcons problem is that they are taking conference losses while so-called unlikely teams like Detroit, Washington, and the Niners are getting them… They are going to need a ton of help… Any depending on beating the Saints with that receiving corp is asking for trouble. That is why Turner is a necessary evil, he’s your real Saints killer when he is on…

Najeh Davenpoop

October 10th, 2011
7:20 pm

One thing that sucks for the Falcons this year is that the NFC North has all but clinched one wild card spot already. Whoever doesn’t win that division between Green Bay and Detroit is practically assured of the 5 seed. That means the Falcons are going to be competing against Chicago, Tampa, Seattle, and the entire NFC East for one wild card spot if they don’t manage to win the division. That is a lot of competition to overcome, particularly when Chicago holds a tiebreaker over the Falcons already.

And unlike, say, the Eagles, the Falcons don’t have the luxury of being in a division where all their rivals find new ways to shoot themselves in the foot every week.

Yo Dog

October 10th, 2011
7:30 pm

No matter how things turn out this year, we’re clearly not ready for primetime and ill equipped to beat the elite teams in the league. Last year’s playoff loss was an embarrassment and none of our offseason moves have solved the problems.

Chandler Going Deep..

October 10th, 2011
7:30 pm

Its a wrap. I say they wont make the playoffs with Melt melting and Coach Jim Moron Jr lookin like a deer in headlights………lol

Delbert D.

October 10th, 2011
7:31 pm

I wish I knew how to make columns of numbers and words line up on my posts. I’ve tried ASCII editors, terminal font and nothing seems to work. It has affected my concentration with regard to the Falcons.

"Chef" Tim Dix

October 10th, 2011
7:32 pm

poles make weak columns.

Chandler Going Deep..

October 10th, 2011
7:32 pm

3-9 last 12 including preseason games….

Yea they have regressed along with their star QB! Playoffs? PLAYOFFS??

QB rating below 80 now and dropping fast…

JSS

October 10th, 2011
7:35 pm

@ Davenpoop…
The scarier long-term thing is say Carolina goes 5-11 or 6-10, they’ll have a monster pick in actual strong draft to finally get a replacement for Peppers.

"Chef" Tim Dix

October 10th, 2011
7:41 pm

Julio Jones can out run Matty’s deepest throw on EVERY ATTEMPT.

The curtain on Matt has been pulled back, can’t reach the deep threat.

That might be news to TD, but not to any Falcons fan.

Get off the noodle arm wagon, get on the can’t go over the top train.

SR

October 10th, 2011
7:47 pm

Nope- best this team will do is 8-8. Maybe 7-9.

Tim

October 10th, 2011
7:51 pm

Some of Dimitroff’s acquisitions just haven’t worked out. Sam Baker and Dunta Robinson are two examples that come to mind. Matt Ryan isn’t getting better. If anything, he’s regressing. Now Roddy White is dropping passes again. This all just adds up to a team that isn’t on par with the better teams of the league. Wish it was different, but it ain’t. This is Falcons football. This is Atlanta.

Mr Charlie

October 10th, 2011
7:57 pm

Way I figure it, even if we lose all the rest of our games, as long as I don’t turn on the TV and watch Coach Smith doing the Chop Suey cheer in Arkansas, it will not be the low point of the franchise.

Herschel Talker

October 10th, 2011
8:00 pm

Schultzie:

No chance. Another underachieving season.

HT

zorro

October 10th, 2011
8:01 pm

7:50 pm

The (preparation) The fact or state of being prepared this is the type of QB that we the falcons have. Being able to connect this on the field matt ryan is so far behind the curve it’s not funny.He look’s good coming to the line and calling out to change the play but when the play is in motion matt ryan lose connection with the playing field. He need’s to be studied something else is going on with matt ryan,when he started out he was not married. Now look at his play, matt is about family not the game. And it’s causing the whole fan base to suffer ,the GM gotta see this, and the brain trust in my evaluation is already looking at competing with the rest of the NFC South.We all see the painting on the wall ,so is it water paint ? and now when he’s hit with some pressure. Exigent demand on one’s time or energy this guy is costing this community to have a deficient lack of a identity, or in other word’s we have fallen back in the chance of being in the race for first place.We all saw the inability for matt ryan to get the deep ball down the field effectively and it caused one player to get hurt. So if Roddy don’t play next week no one should be surprise, you all saw some clues of , when some other players didn’t suit up.So what are they trying to tell the fans? I’m one of the 99% who believe that he owe’s us an apology

"Chef" Tim Dix

October 10th, 2011
8:03 pm

Oh, and just clarify, what I’m saying is, forget O line issues, on a three step drop and let it rip, JJ STILL has to stop and wait.

reebok

October 10th, 2011
8:04 pm

the falcons are below average on both sides of the ball. they will finish at 7-9 or 8-8.

JSS

October 10th, 2011
8:04 pm

Man 24 hours has taken the starch out of a lot your collars! Scary, it is sure refreshing!!!

ROD

October 10th, 2011
8:05 pm

Cmon guys, this season is a long way from being over. The Falcons should win the rest of their games. If they lose, it should only be once. Remember how badly the Packers were last year, and they were a lower seed. Yes, they are not playing well, but the schedule is in their favor. It’s up to them. I think a little adjustment, and they should be on their way. Detroit will not continue to win, Chicago is up and down, and the East teams are up and down. I believe ATL n Philly will be there in the end, and don’t be surprise they are playing one another for the Championship game. I’m disappointed just like everyone else, but I saw some positive things last night. But it will all start on Sunday. I believe the schedule are in their favor. Remove the anger, and just look at their schedule. They can and will be New Orleans twice. Falcons and Chargers will play one another in the Superbowl, guarantee it. It is still early guys, we need to hang in there with them. It’s not how u start, it’s how u finish. Falcons finish 13-3 or 12-4, Jeff make sure u keep this comment.

(STILL) 2-10 Against Ranked Teams

October 10th, 2011
8:06 pm

Playoffs??? Please……that’s like saying that my UGA Bulldogs can win the National Championship…

Mike Smith = Mark Richt

(STILL) 2-10 Against Ranked Teams

October 10th, 2011
8:07 pm

ROD, I have a unicorn I’d like to sell ya……

JSS

October 10th, 2011
8:07 pm

Almost as scary as someone old enough to remember Chop Suey!

JSS

October 10th, 2011
8:09 pm

Does that unicorn poop rainbows?

Gregory Moundine

October 10th, 2011
8:09 pm

Falcons will make the playoffs or Mr. Blank and I will be upset. I say again, if not T.O. go get someone with an attitude. The Falcons need a Ray Lewis!

Do not make Mr. Blank be forced to hire a Gruden or Cowher!

Bob Winfield

October 10th, 2011
8:10 pm

No play-offs this year. Lucky to win six games. Weak offense line. Weak coaches. Being out coached each game.And last but not lease is a quarterback that can’t throw twenty yard pass.

Gregory Moundine

October 10th, 2011
8:10 pm

I like Mike Smith and Murlarky, but this is a business. I know we will turn it around. You guys still have my support. Go Falcons!

Gregory Moundine

October 10th, 2011
8:11 pm

Matt Ryan, keep your head up Man!

(STILL) 2-10 Against Ranked Teams

October 10th, 2011
8:12 pm

Oh yeah….TO has been known to do wonders for a clubhouse…..please, give me a break!

We need pass BLOCKERS…..not pass RECEIVERS!! Jerry Rice in his prime would be lost in this offense…..

(STILL) 2-10 Against Ranked Teams

October 10th, 2011
8:13 pm

“The Falcons need a Ray Lewis”…..why?? We have plenty of murderous felons in this state…..

Mr Charlie

October 10th, 2011
8:14 pm

If all the negative nancies call for 7-9, or 8-8, that just shows what a great Job TD, CS and Ice have done. 8-8 used to be a pipe dream, now it is a low point.

GumboISGood

October 10th, 2011
8:15 pm

Rod, you are living a fantasy. First off, from what I saw with my eyes last night. You guys will be lucky to finish ahead of Tampa in the division. I say this after Tampa lost 48-3 to the niners. Yeah bro, it’s that bad. To make matters more entertaining, you say the Eagles, the Falcons, and the NFC championship in the same sentence. Matty Ice will not beat New Orleans this year. We own the Falcons. We have the ring. We have Brees. Saints > Falcons!

Mr Charlie

October 10th, 2011
8:17 pm

Gumbol, We could have drafted Drew Brees. Thanks for reminding me.

(STILL) 2-10 Against Ranked Teams

October 10th, 2011
8:21 pm

oh great, Mr. Charlie…..so now mediocrity is what we strive for, huh??

Yup, that’s why all these coaches and GM get paid the big bucks for…..an 8-8 record.

(STILL) 2-10 Against Ranked Teams

October 10th, 2011
8:23 pm

Gregory Moundine
October 10th, 2011
8:11 pm

Matt Ryan, keep your head up Man!

….and to that, I will add: keep doing those bicep curls!!!!

DawgGone

October 10th, 2011
8:23 pm

The Falcons come into this season overrated and over hyped! Superbowl…yea right! They have read their own press clippings and have forgotten what 2010 was really all about – hard work and discipline, weak schedule, close wins, and a run of good luck. Matt Ryan will make a great offensive coordinator one day but I think he lacks the physical attributes (arm strength and accuracy) and perhaps mental disposition (not intelligence but calmness in the storm) to lead this team to a Superbowl. But it is not fair to hold him solely responsible for the poor play of the offense when the line play has regressed to the point where he often does not have the time to throw an accurate pass down field even if he could. The running game lacks consistency maybe for the same reason (poor line play). The defense is a bend but don’t break group that often breaks. it seems nobody is a play maker except Grimes when makes one of those 10 foot leap interceptions. To top it all off there is no consolation in the fact that next years draft might could help the situation. I think the person most responsible for this situation is Thomas Dimitroff. He does not seem to evaluate quality 1st round NFL talent. In addition he has made at best feeble moves in the free agency market. Coaching also has been inconsistant and slow to react to changing situations within a game. The bottom line is that it is a waste of time and effort to try and figure out what’s wrong with the Falcons and what to do about it. The person who has the most to loose from all this is Authur Blank. He should make an evaluation and then take action. To me that keeps the fan base interested by letting us know that he gives a crap about the “product” on the field and just current years profit and loss.

Dave

October 10th, 2011
8:31 pm

It’s not their year. They need a major upgrade on the o-line, across the board on defense, and at punter. Also, Turner is probably wearing out. The life of an NFL running back is not a long one.

ROD

October 10th, 2011
8:31 pm

All I’m saying guys, don’t count them out. I have the same concern just like all Falcons fans, but I think they played better than what people are saying. If Matt Ryan will realize he can check down to the running backs. If the cornerbacks realize when a team has a 3 and 5, and u are blitzing, 90 percent of the time, they are going to throw a slant. They need to get physical, and stay physical for 4 quarters.

Gumbol, I’m not concern about Tampa, we gave them that game. They are going to continue to lose because they are too young. They will win both games with the Saints. The Saints haven’t played anyone. They lost to the Packers just like the Falcons, so the same team they have beaten, I believe the Falcons will play and beat. All I’m saying, look at the FALCONS schedule. When they start their winning streak, I will be back on here. The Falcons have not put two good halves together, but it’s coming.

Mr Charlie

October 10th, 2011
8:32 pm

Still, show me the formula that fires the GM, coach, all the coordinators that leads to superbowls?

As a matter of fact, you look at every Super Bowl team this decade and what is the one thing they have in common? Stability.

Confounded

October 10th, 2011
8:35 pm

Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Falcons half time locker Room;
MS- So how we doing guys?
MM – Uh, Good, can I stay upstairs during the 2nd half? I like the view from up there.
MS- yeah sure. Have an Ice cream for me too will ya?
MS- Any changes to your scheme in the 2nd half?
MM- Yeah maybe, I think I’ll try some Neopolitan.
MS- No, You worried about the offensive scheme?
MM – Nah, Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla work well together
MS- OKay then, tell Mattie keep his helmet on. No scoop on the half time changes.
MM,BVG,MS – HA! HA! HA! Good one!