The Atlanta Falcons could be battling for a playoff spot this weekend. Instead, they're wrapping up what is currently a four-win season and staring at a top-5 pick in the NFL draft.
How different could things be? Let us count the ways of misery.
First came the Week 2 epic collapse against Dallas, in which it looked as though Falcons players had never seen an onside kick before.
Then, in Week 3, another lost lead ensued as Nick Foles made the defense look like standing pylons in the fourth quarter, and the offense couldn't get a first down to milk time from the clock.
In Week 7, Todd Gurley couldn't help but fall into the end zone for a TD that only helped fantasy football players. Instead of kneeling out the clock to kick the winning field goal, the Falcons gave fellow cellar-dweller Detroit a chance for a game-winning drive.
In Week 14, Ryan threw several terrible interceptions, blowing a chance to win a game in which the defense played well.
Then, in Week 15, the Falcons owned a 17-0 halftime lead before watching Tom Brady and the Buccaneers zoom by for a 31-27 win.
And finally, in Week 16, rookie corner A.J. Terrell had a potential game-winning interception in his grasp with just over two minutes remaining but couldn't squeeze the pick. Patrick Mahomes threw the go-ahead TD the next play. Then Younghoe Koo missed a 39-yard game-tying field goal to compound the loss.
Atlanta could have nine or 10 wins heading into Sunday, or at the very least, they should be battling with the 8-7 Bears for the final playoff spot. If only they could have gotten out of their own way.
"I feel like we've got a good core group of guys here that you can build on and I think we've been competitive; we just haven't found a way to get the job done in finishing situations enough this year and it's something we definitely have to improve at moving forward," Ryan said.
The Falcons will move forward with a new GM and coach and hope the changes at the top trickle down and lead to less blown leads and epic collapses in 2021.