We don't have to wait too much longer now.
The Atlanta Falcons spent an entire season winning football games while acknowledging success was hollow if they failed in January. That realization created a muted environment in Atlanta, a four-month preamble to the real thing.
The regular season became the preseason. It could not have been easy.
The Falcons showed their faith in Ryan by opening up their passing attack this season. The fifth-year quarterback rewarded them by setting career highs in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating.
But 0-3 clings to Ryan's back like a zombified primate. Never mind the fact that the first loss came as a rookie and the last two came against eventual Super Bowl champions in the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. This is a results business, and Ryan has fallen short in the big moment.
At 27 and smack in the middle of his prime, the real Matt Ryan stands up Sunday. Is he about to claim a spot at the NFL big boys table alongside Brady, Rodgers, Brees and the Manning brothers? Or is he the quarterback that's very good, but never quite great? More Tony Romo than Tom Brady.
A win over the Seahawks won't sway every doubter. But another loss will have suffocating effect. Other than that, no pressure, Matty Ice.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.