In a recent interview, Matt Ryan said that the Falcons’ offense could score 30 points per game this season. Is he overvaluing his own weapons or arm this season? Here's our NFL Pick.
Ryan's Big Prediction
Last season the Falcons averaged 21.2 points per game with a very similar offense, so a nine-point upsurge from 2015 to 2016 would be astronomical. Online Sportsbook Bet365 has Ryan's passing yards total 4435.5 this season on their NFL Odds, which would represent a strong year for the Falcons' quarterback. However, with deep running back depth and still no proven second receiver to go along with Julio Jones, the Falcons are still not at a level where 30 points per game are possible.
Ryan, on the other hand, is another story. He threw for 4500 yards for the fourth straight season, but his touchdowns fell to just 21 on the year, with 16 picks. The Falcons aren't going to be good enough to worry about playing with the lead all season, but the running back situation is what could take throws away from Ryan.
Even though I don't expect Devonta Freeman to have another career year like 2015, Tevin Coleman is a very promising running back as well, so the Falcons are going to want to get him involved after averaging almost five yards per carry in 87 attempts last year.
Another problem with the Falcons and Ryan is that even though they acquired Mohamed Sanu, I doubt it provides enough relief to get Jones into anything but double coverage all game. Sanu is a good receiver, but he is not Roddy White, who before last season was still serviceable and even above average receiver.
Sanu, on the other hand, disappeared last season in Cincinnati after a promising 2014 and the Falcons signed him to a deal worth five years and $32.5 million ($14 million guaranteed).
Much like his overly bold 30-point per game prediction, Ryan's odds of posting another 4500-yard season is speculative, to say the least. Atlanta's 26.3 rush attempts per game is surely going to increase next season if the Falcons are an eight-win team or better in 2016, which is going to limit Ryan. Until last season, Ryan has not had a solid running game since 2011- Michael Turner's last good season. Now with Freeman and Coleman, Ryan's odds of having another year of 600 pass attempts seems low.
Considering Ryan is coming off his worst turnover season ever, it's not that farfetched. Jones has also not been the pillar of health throughout his career either, so with so much of the offense likely invested in their number one receiver, if Jones goes down for any stretch of games that severely hurts Ryan's chances of cashing the over in this prop play.
Last season Ryan's QBR plummeted to 61.8, which was easily the lowest of his career. His pass attempts have also been slightly trending downward over the last three seasons. I expect about 4300 yards from Ryan this season, where I also expect the Falcons to be a top 10 rushing team as well.
Free NFL Pick: UNDER 4435.5 (-110)