When ESPN lined this game up between San Francisco and Atlanta for Monday Night Football, they figured it was going to be arguably the best primetime game of this year, and a ratings home run. It was to be a rematch of the NFC Championship game of the 2012-2013 season in primetime. The aforementioned game between the Falcons and the 49ers was a great game (objectively speaking), no matter how heartbreaking it was for the Falcons. Falcons fans couldn't deny that when they saw this matchup on the schedule for Monday Night Football before the season started, their blood boiled hot for revenge.
How sweet would it possibly be to get vengeance against the 49ers at their home turf right before the playoffs started to set the tone heading into the postseason? Right? Right?
Then this year happened. 4-10 through 14 games means no playoffs for the Falcons. While San Francisco isn't having as good a year as they did last season, 10-4 (their record) would sound pretty sweet right now even if it means not winning the division. The 49ers are heading for the playoffs, while the Falcons will sit at home and contemplate their future over a long and brutal offseason.
That's what makes this matchup so tough. We get reminded of the game that should have taken the Falcons to the franchise's second Super Bowl appearance, and other than a revenge factor, there's really nothing for the Falcons to play for in this one. Minus the annual two matchups against the Saints, this was supposed to be the game of the year.
Even worse is that it comes on Monday night, so there will be a three hour pre game show with nine different analysts telling us how disappointing the Falcons year has been, and then a three+ hour football game of what should have been a classic rematch likely turned into a bloodbath.
Mercifully, the season only has two games left. But Monday night's game against the 49ers will be the most painful reminder of all of what could have been last year, and what has been arguably the worst season in the history of this franchise.
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