Atlanta Falcons Predictions
The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a 10-6 season and a second-place finish in the NFC South division in 2011. They were bounced in the first round of the playoffs in an ugly 2-24 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. This team has a lot of talent, but it hasn’t lived up to expectations in the postseason the last few years.
The NFC South is up for grabs this season. Never has a team in this division won back-to-back titles, and more times than not a surprise team comes out of nowhere to win it. Here is a preview of the offense and defense in Atlanta, as well as my prediction on where they finish within the division in 2012.
The Falcons put up 25.1 points and 377 total yards per game last season while ranking 10th in the league in total offense. They ran a balanced attack that featured 262 passing yards and 115 rushing yards per game. They should put up right where they left off last season on this side of the ball.
Matt Ryan is coming off his best season yet, completing 61.3 percent of his passes for 4,177 yards with 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He finished very strong least year, completing 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,023 yards and a 10-0 TD/INT ratio over his final four starts.
RB Michael Turner has showed no signs of slowing down as he enters his ninth year in the league. The star back rushed for 1,340 yards on 4.5/carry with 11 touchdowns last season. Jacquizz Rodgers (205 rushing yards, 188 receiving yards, two total TD) had a solid rookie campaign and is the lighting to Turner’s thunder.
Atlanta boasts one of the best receiving corps in the league. WR Roddy White (100 receptions, 1,296 yards, eight TD) remains one of the league’s elite, while WR Julio Jones (54, 959, eight TD) certainly lived up to the hype in his rookie year. TE Tony Gonzalez (80, 875, seven TD) just never seems to age.
Their offensive line is one of the most underrated units in the league. It has given up 27 or fewer sacks in each of the last four years, though a lot of that can be attributed to a quick-strike passing game. The entire starting front five returns intact in LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Todd McClure, RG Joe Hawley and RT Tyson Clabo.
The stop unit was respectable last season, allowing 21.9 points and 334 total yards per game. The Falcons have made a few upgrades this offseason to bolster the defense and the numbers should be about on par with ’11.
One concern is an aging front four that features two starters over the age of 30. DE John Abraham (35 tackles, 9.5 sacks) is still getting it done at age 34, but he can only have a few more years left in the tank. DT Jonathan Babineaux (21 tackles, 3 for loss) did not make much of an impact last year and missed three games due to injury. NT Corey Peters (26 tackles, 3 sacks) made 15 starts last season and enters his third year in the league. DE Ray Edwards (33 tackles, 3.5 sacks) was a solid offseason addition in ’11. This unit does have a lot of depth with four quality players coming off the bench.
The linebacker corps is also a bit suspect heading into ’12. There’s no question that SLB Sean Weatherspoon (115 tackles, 11.5 for loss, eight pass break-ups) has lived up to the hype after the Falcons selected him in the first round of ’10. However, WLB Stephen Nicholas (35 tackles, 3 for loss) missed six games last year due to injury, and Atlanta may have to start second-year pro Akeem Dent at MLB. They signed Lofa Tatupu from Seattle this offseason to challenge Dent for starting duties. With Curtis Lofton (147 tackles, 8 for loss, nine passes defended) leaving for New Orleans, the Falcons must find a way to replace his massive production.
Atlanta has upgraded its secondary by signing CB Asante Samuel (34 tackles, 10 pass break-ups, three INT) from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. He’ll team up with CB Brent Grimes (49 tackles, 14 pass break-ups, one INT) to form one of the better CB duos in the NFL. SS William Moore (54 tackles, nine pass break-ups, two INT) and FS Thomas DeCoud (86 tackles, six pass break-ups, four INT) resume their starting roles.
NFC South Prediction – 2nd Place (9-7 Record)
I could make an argument for all four teams in the NFC South to win this division in ’12. Atlanta has one of the better offenses in the league behind Ryan, Turner, Jones, White and an excellent O-line. However, I’m concerned about an aging defensive line, and having to replace #1 tackler Lofton at linebacker. I have the Falcons finishing second to the Carolina Panthers in the division and missing out on the playoffs.
Individual Team NFL Season Predictions
|AFC West||AFC North||AFC South||AFC East|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Pittsburgh Steelers||Indianapolis Colts||New England Patriots|
|San Diego Chargers||Baltimore Ravens||Jacksonville Jaguars||New York Jets|
|Oakland Raiders||Cleveland Browns||Houston Texans||Miami Dolphins|
|Denver Broncos||Cincinnati Bengals||Tennessee Titans||Buffalo Bills|
|NFC West||NFC North||NFC South||NFC East|
|Seattle Seahawks||Chicago Bears||Atlanta Falcons Predictions||Philadelphia Eagles|
|St. Louis Rams||Green Bay Packers||New Orleans Saints||New York Giants|
|San Francisco 49ers||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Bucs||Dallas Cowboys|
|Arizona Cardinals||Minnesota Vikings||Carolina Panthers||Washington Redskins|