A year after winning the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons suffered a miserable 6-10 season, which prompted the firing of Mike Smith as head coach. Now new HC Dan Quinn will try and bring the team back to respectability and Vegas does think they will do it this year as their win total has been set at 8.5 with juice to the Under (-120). Vegas odds have the Falcons listed at +220 to win the NFC South, +2000 to win the NFC Title and +4500 to win the Super Bowl. A season preview of the Falcons along with their 2015 Schedule are below.
Last year the Atlanta offense ranked 12th in scoring, at 23.8 ppg, while also ranking 8th in total yards (378.2 ypg), 5th in passing (284.6 ypg) and 24th in rushing (93.6 ypg). Offense hasn't been much of a problem for this team the last few years, but last year they did take a step back due to many injuries. Still the last 2 years Matt Ryan has completed 66% of his passes and has thrown 54 TD passes. Last year he had a passer rating of 93.9 and threw 28 TDs to just 14 INTs. WR Julio Jones had a nightmarish 2013, but bounced back last year as he posted 1593 yards receiving, which is a franchise record. Roddy White still can make some big plays and it the number two guy for this team, while depth comes in the form of Devin Hester and Leonard Hankerson, who was Washington's number 2 guy last year but he is injury prone. The Falcons as added Justin Hardy (East Carolina) with their 4th pick in the draft. The Falcons released RB's Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers, so know their ground attack will rely on 3rd round pick Tevin Coleman from Indiana. He is a smallish back, but he is also very tough and he is a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Last year the OL had a solid year and really improved over 2013. OG Justin Blaylock is gone, but highly ranked RT Ryan Schraeder and RG Jon Asamoah both return. OG Jared Smith and 7th round pick Jake Rodgers were added for depth.
Defensively the Falcons ranked 27th in points allowed (26.1 ppg), 32nd in yards allowed (398.2 ypg), 32nd vs the pass (279.9 ypg) and 21st vs the run (118.4 ypg). Defense is where this team has major issues and that what makes bringing in Dan Quinn as the new head coach, as he was the DC for the Seahawks the last couple of year and we know how good that defense was.Last year the Falcons were 30th is sacks and they hope to have rectified that with the drafting of Vic Beasley with the overall 8th pick in the draft. Beasely is looking to add some weight to be a better run defender, but he sure can get after the QB. DE's Tyson Jackson and Adrian Clayborn were signed in the offseason and both will get playing time for sure. The LB Corps looks to be very solid and is led by Paul Worrilow, who had 142 tackles last year. He does need to work more on defending the pass though. The Falcons brought in Justin Durant (Dallas) and Brooks Reed (Houston) and both are excellent at stopping the run. Also signed was O'Brien Schofield, who comes in from Seattle. The secondary was the worst in the league vs the pass, but it really wasn't because of lack of talent. The Falcons took Jalen Collins (LSU) with their 2nd pick in the draft and he will team with Desond Trufant, who was rated as the 6th best CB in the league last year. 7th year Falcon William Moore is an enforcer over the middle, while former 2nd round pick Kemal Ishmael will be locked in at FS.
The Falcons had a miserable season last year, but the pieces are in place for them to bounce back this year and it also doesn't hurt that they are playing in the very weak NFC South, where last year a 7-8-1 record won the division. Their big move was getting rid of HC Smith and bringing in defensive guru Dan Quin to fix a defense that was last in the league in yards allowed and last vs the pass. It wasn't due to lack of talent that the defensive struggled, but rather lack of coaching. That will change this year. The defense is a little weak up front, but the back 7 looks very good and should have a nice season under the guidance of Quinn. They should finish around the top 15 in yards allowed this year. The offense also looks good as Matty Ice will again be running the show and throwing to one of the better WR combos in the league in Julio Jones and Roddy White, while the running game should get a boost with the drafting of Tevin Coleman, who can score at any time. Having an upgraded OL will help this unit as well. The Win Total for this team is 8.5 and I have them penciled in as the Division Champs with a 9-7 record.
Info Gathered From Pro Football Weekly & Athlon Sports
2015 Atlanta Falcons Schedule
Sept. 14 Philadelphia Eagles (Mon), 7:10
Sept. 20 at New York Giants, 1
Sept. 27 at Dallas Cowboys, 1
Oct. 4 Houston Texans, 1
Oct. 11 Washington Redskins, 1
Oct. 15 at New Orleans Saints (Thu), 8:25
Oct. 25 at Tennessee Titans, 1
Nov. 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1
Nov. 8 at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05
Nov. 15 BYE
Nov. 22 Indianapolis Colts, 1
Nov. 29 Minnesota Vikings, 1
Dec. 6 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1
Dec. 13 at Carolina Panthers, 1
Dec. 20 at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1
Dec. 27 Carolina Panthers, 1
Jan. 3 New Orleans Saints, 1
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