The Atlanta Falcons are primed and ready for another crack at the Super Bowl two years removed from their heart-breaking defeat in Houston.
Many predicted that the club would endure a hangover from their crushing loss at the hands of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, where the Falcons lost a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Dan Quinn’s men appeared to be feeling the effects of their defeat in the early stages of the campaign. It took a good while for them to find their form before finding their feet towards the end of the season, ending with a 10-6 record – good enough for a playoff place.
Atlanta brushed aside the Los Angeles Rams in the Wildcard Round, using their playoff experience to defeat the NFC West side. They battled the number one seed the Philadelphia Eagles on the road and moved to the brink of victory, only to be denied on the goalline by Doug Pederson’s team.
The Falcons have boosted their roster with the addition of Calvin Ridley, selecting the wideout in the first round of the 2018 Draft. The NFC South outfit have one of the most exciting young rosters in the NFL and have a quality quarterback leading them in the form of Matt Ryan. There’s real hope that this in the season when Atlanta win the Super Bowl.
The Falcons were truly dominant in the 2016 season in their run to the Super Bowl. Ryan was outstanding, spreading the ball around to his receivers across the field. The 33-year-old rightfully won the MVP award for his high level of play and was equally impressive in the Super Bowl, only to be undone by the brilliance of Tom Brady and the Patriots.
He took a step back last season following the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The offense didn’t quite have the same flow with Steve Sarkisian calling the plays. Ryan and Sarkisian struggled to get on the same page in the early part of the campaign, although by the end the offense was starting to resemble it’s old self. If Ryan can get back to his 2016 form, the Falcons can be the class of the NFC once again.
The running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman remains intact for the 2018 season. Both players have signed new deals that will keep them in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. They provide a powerful one-two punch in the backfield, with Freeman powering through the tackles, while Coleman provides the catching threat. The duo’s skill set allows them to change roles seamlessly, making the Falcons almost impossible to defend at times.
Julio Jones’ presence makes Atlanta tick. He’s arguably the best receiver in the NFL and has been for the past five seasons. There has been a contract dispute between Jones and the Falcons, but he looks set for another run this campaign, despite the issues.
Taylor Gabriel left the club, but Mohamed Sanu remains on the roster. The big addition for the Falcons in the off-season was Ridley in the first round of the draft. He has impressive size and speed downfield along with the route-running ability needed to thrive in the NFL. Ridley could be a very good shout to be offensive rookie of the year.
The Falcons’ defense is one of the most interesting units to watch in the NFL. It is stocked with young talent at all three levels of the defense, with Quinn who coordinated one of the best defenses in the NFL in recent seasons – the Seattle Seahawks – calling the plays. It begins in the trenches with Grady Jarrett, who announced himself on the scene in the Super Bowl with three sacks of Brady. He maintained that level of form into the 2017 season, displaying good form against the run and rushing the passer through the middle of the line.
The Falcons lost the services of Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn, but were able to draft Deadrin Senat in the third round, while more will be expected of Takkarist McKinley to take the next step in his development. McKinley and Vic Beasley could form one of the most deadly pass-rush combinations in the NFL, with both players boasting the speed and strength to torment opposing offensive tackles.
Jones might be the best player on the Falcons’ defense. He has the size to take on blockers in the run game, but also the speed to make crunching tackles. Jones has a rare skill set in coverage, being able to cover running backs and tight ends. He’s Atlanta’s Bobby Wagner in the middle of the defense, calling plays and never leaving the field. The 23-year-old is vital to the success of Falcons this term.
The secondary is stocked with quality. Desmond Trufant is a talented cornerback, capable of matching with number one receivers. Robert Alford is a fine complement alongside him, while Brian Poole takes care of the slot. Keanu Neal has rare size and speed for his position. He’s on the way to becoming a truly elite strong safety, taking over the mantle from Kam Chancellor. Ricardo Allen has signed a new deal, keeping him locked in next to Neal covering the deep part of the field. There’s a lot to be excited about with this group.
The Falcons should have no issues reaching the post-season, back them at +100 to secure their place in the playoffs and take them at -133 to win over nine matches at 888Sport. There will be a battle for the NFC South crown with the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, but the Falcons may just edge that battle to secure the division at +190 with TopBet.
Atlanta proved to be a dangerous team in the playoffs last season, back them to win the NFC for the second time in three years at +1200 with BetOnline. In the Super Bowl anything can happen – it could be the Falcons’ time at odds for good value +2200 with TopBet.
Ryan is the man to watch in the MVP race, if he can rediscover his 2016 form then he will be an incredibly strong contender. Back him at odds of +2200 with TopBet to win the prize for a second time. To do that he will need a strong campaign throwing the ball. Ryan passed for 4,944 yards in 2016 before taking a step back last season. Take him to lead the NFL in passing yards at odds of +1581 with Bookmaker. Back him also to throw for over 4,153 passing yards at -130 and over 25 touchdowns at -140 with BetOnline.
Jones has been a dominant force in the NFL since his arrival in the league in 2011. He led the league in receiving yards in 2015, back him to repeat the feat at odds of +502 with Bookmaker. There’s value on the under for 1,399 receiving yards take that option as Ridley may take yards away from him at +105 , but take the over on six touchdowns at -140 with BetOnline. For value take Freeman to lead the NFL in rushing yards at +5000 with TopBet, although it will be a push. However, he should be in the region of over 960 rushing yards at -115 and over 10 touchdowns at -120 with BetOnline.
Finally Ridley should be a strong contender for offensive rookie of the year. He has shown promise in pre-season and looked a brilliant player in the college game. If he adapts Ridley could be in line for a huge campaign due to the attention drawn by Jones. Back him at +3072 with Bookmaker to win the award.
Atlanta Falcons To Win NFC South
Atlanta Falcons To Win NFC Championship
Atlanta Falcons To Win Super Bowl
Atlanta Falcons To Reach The Playoffs
Atlanta Falcons To Win Over Nine Matches
Matt Ryan To Be NFL MVP
Matt Ryan To Lead NFL In Passing Yards
Matt Ryan To Throw Over 4,153 Passing Yards
Matt Ryan To Throw Over 25 Touchdowns
Devonta Freeman To Rush For Over 960 Yards
Devonta Freeman To Record Over 10 Touchdowns
Devonta Freeman To Be NFL Rushing Leader
Julio Jones To Record Under 1,399 Receiving Yards
Julio Jones To Record Over Six Touchdowns
Julio Jones To Lead NFL In Receiving Yards
Calvin Ridley To Win Offensive Rookie Of The Year Award