2021 Atlanta Falcons Predictions with Odds to Win Super Bowl
The Atlanta Falcons are supposed to be good. They have an abundance of talent on offense. And while the defense leaves room for improvement, they had one of the better defensive units when they made their run to the Super Bowl not that many years ago. To spare you time and space, the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots and have simply not recovered since. They had a 10-6 season the year immediately following the collapse. However, since then, they have two 7-9 seasons and then last year’s 4-12 year, which landed them the No. 4 draft pick. With that pick, they selected tight-end Kyle Pitts out of Florida, and his presence should be felt immediately on offense. The problem is, can the defense step up and the Falcons simply stay out of their own way? That’s the million-dollar question that will be answered around November.
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The Falcons will open the regular season on September 12 with a home date against the Philadelphia Eagles. From there, they travel to Tampa for a division showdown with the Bucs and then to New York to face the Giants. They return home to begin October with two home games against Washington and the New York Jets before getting their bye week in Week 6 and then playing 12 consecutive weeks. As of writing this, the Falcons are +5000 to win the Super Bowl, +2200 to win the NFC and +800 to win the NFC South.
Let’s take a look at what to expect from each unit heading into this season.
Key Players: Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Mike Davis and Kyle Pitts
I can understand what the Falcons are trying to do, but I do not see the point in trading Julio Jones when they did for a slew of draft picks. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan finally had another legitimate offensive weapon to add into the mix in the form of Kyle Pitts. Instead, the Falcons chose to rebuild, leaving Ryan with an offense of unproven commodities.
Matt Ryan is just a handful of years removed from winning the NFL MVP and the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award. He’s pushing 37 this season, so his time is likely limited in terms of how many more seasons he’s going to suit up. Unfortunately for him, his production has declined in every season since 2017, and I don’t believe he’ll ever regain any of the MVP form. Not with this supporting crew at least. Ryan will need to be a leader both on and off the field, and the Falcons will need to have a tremendous year if the offense wants to help the team win ball games.
As for Ridley and Pitts, these pass catchers were solid in college with Ridley and Pitts both being first-round draft picks. Ridley had two 800+ yards receiving years in his first two seasons in the league and finally broke out last year with 1,374-receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Now that Julio Jones is gone, Ridley will be the go-to receiver so it’ll be interesting to watch him develop and see if he can become the guy the Falcons think he can be.
As for Pitts, he was highly touted out of college, which led him to be selected fourth overall. The Florida product amassed 770 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Gators last season and his combination of speed, size, skill and blocking has the Falcons thinking they have the next Rob Gronkowski, only faster. Can he make an immediate impact in the NFL? I say yes only because the Falcons have limited options on offense.
Defense & Special Teams
Key Players: Deion Jones and Dante Fowler Jr.
If the Falcons are hoping to avoid finishing below .500 for the fourth straight season, the defense is going to need to step up in a big way. Last year, the Falcons stop unit ranked fourth last in terms of points allowed with a whopping 414 in 16 games. They were, however, stout against the run, ranking sixth in that category. However, the pass defense was dead last, giving up 284.9 yards per game through the air and a total of 4,558 on the season. Given the fact that the division they played in got a tad bit worse, they shouldn’t give up a boatload of points to division rivals like they did last season, and they should improve on those awful numbers. Injuries played a huge role in their demise over the last few years. However, with a healthy squad and guys like Deion Jones and Dante Fowler Jr. ready to have bounce-back seasons, the Falcons will be expecting to rely on their defense to keep them in ball games and to win them close ball games.
The Falcons special teams unit was probably the only bright spot last year as Younghoe Koo was one of the best kickers in the league. He should have plenty of chances to kick field goals as the Falcons don’t see them have what it takes to find the endzone often.
It’s a shame to see how far the Falcons have fallen considering how close they were to tasting victory in that infamous Super Bowl loss. I personally enjoy watching the Falcons play as the offense was high-tempo and explosive, but this year I’m not really bullish on their chances. As I mentioned above, the offense has an aging quarterback and unproven commodities in the skill positions. They have a daunting schedule and there isn’t much value with them on the futures board to spring a surprise. Look for the Falcons to finished under .500 once again this season and for another high draft pick next April.
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