by Chris Burke
It's amazing how one week - and, more specifically, one loss - can totally change your outlook in the NFL this season.
After Week 10, Atlanta looked like an upstart that had grabbed the inside track on the playoffs thanks to a win over New Orleans. Just seven days later, though, the Falcons blew a lead late against Denver, lost a critical home game and now need to do some major regrouping.
The schedule (at least prior to Week 17 against St. Louis) is unfriendly. Atlanta hosts 8-2 Carolina this Sunday, then travels to San Diego and New Orleans, hosts Tampa Bay and heads to Minnesota. There is not a gimmie in the bunch.
And while Matt Ryan has not played like a rookie quarterback this season - the fact that he is a rookie QB cannot be overlooked. Ryan still has to show he can hold up in the heat of a playoff chase, not to mention handle the beating that a 16-game NFL schedule deals out.
The Playoff Push: Did Atlanta Blow Its Chance? originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Thu, 20 Nov 2008 09:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.