ATLANTA — There is, realistically, not a lot left for Falcons fans to watch for this season (look no further than the sea of empty seats at Sunday's game for evidence of that).
But fans hoping next season will be better can at least dream on a top pick coming - at least if Atlanta keeps losing. They didn't lose on Sunday.
The Falcons punished the Carolina Panthers at home in a 40-20 beatdown, sacking Kyle Allen five times.
The Falcons have now dropped to the eighth pick in the draft, at 4-9 thanks to a 3-2 run in their last five games after starting the season 1-8.
Paradoxically, because of how the draft works and how it rewards teams with worse records, not all fans are pleased with the recent run of solid play - but here's the perspective from national media on things:
- Matthew Tabeek, atlantafalcons.com: A reader wrote to Tabeek for his thoughts on the "precarious situation between winning and drafting" His response: "Getting upset over a win isn’t going to change anything." Tabeek points out that players and coaches are not going to stop trying to win, and that "at this point all you can do is let the chips fall where they may."
- Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer: "Atlanta whipped the Panthers." The Carolina columnist noted Atlanta's dominance in the two meetings between the teams this year, but also took a moment to characterize the Falcons as a "team that has been mostly lousy the rest of the year and generates so little enthusiasm in its hometown right now that the stands were less than half full."
- Vaughn McClure, ESPN: McClure wrote about Matt Ryan passing 50,000 yards, becoming just the 10th quarterback in NFL history to do so. "The accomplishment occurred in Ryan's 186th career game. He said coming into the game that achieving such a feat would be much better in a victory."
- Darin Gantt, NBC Sports: If you think it's been bad in Atlanta, consider that it's been pretty sour in Carolina, too, as Pro Football Talk's Gantt highlighted how the Falcons were "adding to a season of misery for their NFC South rivals."
- Brian Witt, NBC Sports Bay Area: Over in San Francisco, 49ers writers are already looking ahead at next Sunday's visit from the Falcons, noting the Niners are opening as 11.5-point favorites for Week 15.
- Will McFadden, atlantafalcons.com: Focusing on Atlanta's strong defensive effort, McFadden wrote the Falcons "have placed an emphasis on improved play at the line of scrimmage" to close the season, and saw the fruits of that on Sunday.