Last year the Falcons had their worst season as a franchise since 2007, and even after a four win season, can Atlanta bounce back to becoming a Super Bowl contender? The NFL Odds don’t seem to think so, but do you?
Super Bowl (+4000)
At 4-12 a season ago, nothing went right for the Falcons. They convinced their star veteran tight end, Tony Gonzalez to come back for one more season, only to have his will destroyed by a horrible season, and that wasn’t even the toughest thing to stomach for Atlanta fans. Julio Jones got hurt again and missed a majority of the season, and they had a ton of other injuries including Steven Jackson, who was limited to only 12 games. After a season to forget about, the Falcons are hoping that a healthy offense can lead them back into the playoffs, however I’m not quite sure. Jones is back and healthy along with Jackson so that should be a start, and with the brand-new contract the team just gave Roddy White, this club looks to be whole again. However even though their season was pretty horrible last season, the issues weren’t entirely on the offense.
Even though Atlanta finished the season dead last in rushing yards, their defense is the unit that really gave them issues. The lack of a running game hurt at times, but the defense in Atlanta was so bad, teams could run all over them in 2013. They have addressed the issue somewhat this offseason, but will it be enough? I love the move to bring in Paul Soliai to play up the middle in the Falcons’ base 3-4 defense, however after that, Atlanta didn’t do much to improve their rushing defense. They did re-sign Justin Babineaux and Corey Peters to add some depth on the defensive line, however I doubt it’s enough to solve the Falcons’ issues up the middle. Not only did they give up a ton of rushing yards last season, but their passing defense want’ great either. If their run defense wasn’t so bad, their pass defense might have been even worse.
NFC South (+350)
Last year the Panthers and Saints ran away from the Falcons and Bucs in the NFC South, and even though I doubt any team runs away with the division this season, it’s going to be hard to compete with the Saints this season if you’re the Falcons. Their secondary looks to still have some big holes in it. The team lost Thomas DeCloud as one of their starters in the secondary, and with an already very young group of starting corners (both of Atlanta’s starters at corner this season are second-year players) this defense has almost zero upside this year. If they think they can outscore people in route to the playoffs, I hate to say it but they are dead wrong. The Falcons have to play three of their first five games on the road, and their two home games during that stretch are both against divisional opponents, the Saints and Bucs. I could once again see the Falcons coming out flat this season, and ruining any playoff chances they think they have early in the season.