The Atlanta Falcons had one of their worst seasons in nearly a decade, finishing with a 4-12 record for only the second time since 2013. The Falcons scored a lot of points last season, but they could not stop anybody, which led to the firing of head coach Dan Quinn. Atlanta will look to play better under new head coach Arthur Smith, who was the offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans.
However, the Falcons will not have wide receiver Julio Jones, who was traded to Smith’s old team after expressing displeasure in Atlanta. It will not be easy trying to replace Jones in that offense as he was Matt Ryan’s top option. But Atlanta did use the fourth overall pick on tight end Kyle Pitts, who is versatile enough to be split out wide. The Falcons are not in rebuilding mode yet, but if they can’t win more than four games this season, then they could be looking at a rebuild in 2022.
Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl 56 odds: +6000
Let’s be real here, the Falcons need a lot of things to break their way for them to win Super Bowl 56. For starters, the pass defense needs to be much better in 2021. Last season, the Falcons’ defense gave up a lot of yards, points, and touchdown passes. Atlanta allowed 6.2 yards per play, which was 30th in the NFL. They also allowed a league-worst 293.6 passing yards per game. The Falcons fixed their secondary issues this offseason, signing CB Fabian Moreau, S Duron Harmon in free agency. Then in the draft, Atlanta selected S Richie Grant, CB Avery Williams, and CB Darren Hall. Moreau will likely see a good amount of snaps as the Falcons lean on A.J. Terrell and Kendall Sheffield.
While the pass defense struggled immensely, Atlanta was solid against the run last season, only giving up 104.8 yards per game (6th in the NFL). They will need that same attention to detail this season, especially going up against Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, and Ronald Jones II. On the offensive end, there will be a ton of pressure on Matt Ryan to perform without his superstar wide receiver. Last season, Ryan completed 65% of his passes for 4,581 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. It was the second-straight year that the veteran quarterback threw for 26 touchdown passes.
Without Jones in the fold, the Falcons will need to spread the ball around to Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Kyle Pitts, Austin Hooper, Mike Davis, and Cordarrelle Patterson. Ridley and Gage stepped up last season when Jones was injured so the Falcons’ wide receiver unit should be okay. It’s going to be interesting to see how this season unfolds for the Falcons. There isn’t much expected in 2021, but we've seen far too often in the NFC South, how the last place team finishes in first place.
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