It took a while before the Falcons and Jets in 1973. The Falcons had been in the league for seven years while the Jets were celebrating a decade. Atlanta won this first meeting 28-20 by picking off Jets quarterback Joe Namath three times.
Neither franchise has truly dominated the other although Atlanta leads 7-5 overall and have won three of their five most recent meetings. They last met last season in 2017, which Atlanta won 25-20 although the Jets performed much better than anticipated.
Three of their last meetings have been decided by five points or less. Coincidentally, the two teams have also not been too far apart in terms of their talent or record including last season. The Falcons were coming off a Super Bowl loss while the Jets were predicted to finish last but at the time they met, they had similar records.
The two are on opposite ends right now. The Falcons are still hunting for their first Super Bowl while the Jets are once again expected to be a bad team. But once they meet, it could be another close game.
Atlanta Falcons Recent History
The Falcons have been a ho-hum franchise for most of its existence. Outside of a Super Bowl loss in 1998, Atlanta hasn't really done much. Stringing together winning seasons has been difficult. And then the Matt Ryan era started in 2008 and the Falcons have been a staple in the NFC.
For over a decade, the Falcons have been Super Bowl contenders. They've only had two losing seasons and have made the playoffs six times including making a return to the Super Bowl in 2016. Unfortunately, the Falcons would be on the wrong side of the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history after they infamously blew a 28-3 lead heading into the fourth.
Since the epic collapse, the Falcons have struggled particularly on offence after they lost Shanahan to the 49ers. They still remain a contender and are thirstily looking to redeem themselves.
New York Jets Recent History
The Jets are in the middle of their longest playoff drought since the 70s, where they failed to make the postseason for an entire decade. Under former coach Rex Ryan, the Jets boasted one of the NFL's best defences and made back-to-back conference finals including beating the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
That didn't last long as the Jets quickly returned to mediocrity. Ryan was fired in 2014 and in came Bowles, who instilled an old-school no-nonsense approach that quickly got results. The Jets won 10 games in 2015 much to everyone's surprise but lost the tiebreaker to get into the playoffs.
After the departures of even more stars, the Jets have been stripped to resemble a ragtag group of prospects and unremarkable veterans. But with the drafting of Darnold, the Jets have at least a ray of hope heading into the future.
Atlanta Falcons Outlook
So long as the Falcons don't implode, they will remain Super Bowl contenders for the next few seasons. Ryan and Julio Jones are two of the most prolific quarterback-wide receiver duos while Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman are arguably the best running back tandem. They even added Calvin Ridley, a talented slot receiver through the draft.
On defence, the Falcons further bolstered a stacked secondary by adding cornerback Isaiah Oliver in what was one of the biggest NFL Draft steals. Desmond Trufant is blossoming into a top corner and even with edge rusher Vic Beasley's regression, the defensive line should be decent enough to challenge quarterbacks.
Atlanta has a few issues they can fix via free agency or through trade provided they don't break apart their core. However, rumours of disgruntled stars aren't helping their cause. They need to remain patient and not let egos or money get in the way as they could be on the verge of something special.
New York Jets Outlook
As much as fans would love to see Darnold suit up, the most they'll see of him is during the preseason or maybe late in 2018. They have Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater ahead on the depth chart, two capable quarterbacks Darnold can learn from.
The Jets also have a lot of work to do especially on offence. A receiving platoon of Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor, and Robby Anderson won't cut it. And they still need to find a viable centre who will ensure Darnold stays protected. Then there's the defence which needs help at both linebacker and defensive end.
Bowles is a great coach and will instill the right qualities in this developing team. The Jets are still at least a season away from becoming respectable but they can keep plugging away and they will be rewarded.
Fans will keep their fingers crossed that QB messiah Darnold at least takes a few snaps but otherwise, it should be Bridgewater or McCown. The Falcons will counter with Matt Schaub, who was a longtime starter for the Texans.
Either one of these quarterbacks has experience starting and are some of the best backups. Offensively, the Falcons have decent depth, especially through their offensive line. Their receivers are a bit inexperienced out Justin Hardy and at running back they will roll with fourth-round pick Ito Smith.
The Jets' starters are nowhere near as good as the Falcons but their backups should match-up well against the Falcons. On defence, a solid portion of the team has plenty of experience and are relatively young.
The Falcons should win this game based on talent but it's the preseason and with plenty of the Jets' positions up-for-grabs, expect their backups to perform harder. It's not the better team that wins, it's the team that plays better and that will be New York.