This is the most anticipated Falcons season since 2017, when they were coming off a devastating Super Bowl loss. Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot finally got out from underneath the mountainous amount of dead cap that stemmed from inherited contracts from the former regime. The result was a free-agent class that could rival any in recent memory, forming the most talented and deepest roster of Smith and Fontenot’s tenure.
So, let’s get into some bold predictions. No, making the playoffs isn’t bold enough. The club is only +125 to make the postseason; that’s not exactly bold. Bijan Robinson winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year isn’t bold enough either. He’s the odds-on favorite to take home the award. Here are some very unlikely scenarios that might not seem so far-fetched once I talk through them:
Arthur Smith wins Coach of the Year Award
After back-to-back 7-10 finishes, the Falcons coach has a chance to dramatically improve that win total this year. Moreover, the NFC South is the most winnable division in football next to the NFC South.
The Panthers are young, have a bad offensive line, and are experiencing a regime change. The Buccaneers are rebuilding, and the Saints lost a ton on defense. They also are no longer superior in the trenches, which has long been a weakness of the Falcons.
Moreover, Arthur Smith’s offense should be must-watch this season. If they win the division with Desmond Ridder, that just adds to the job Smith does. He’s +1400 on FanDuel to win the award; this is a great bet to take.
4 Falcons make All-Pro teams
In 2016, three Falcons made All-Pro teams — Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Vic Beasley. That is the most ever for the franchise. This bold prediction breaks that record. Four of Jessie Bates III, A.J. Terrell, Grady Jarrett, Chris Lindstrom, Kyle Pitts, and Bijan Robinson could absolutely make an All-Pro team.
Terrell, Lindstrom, and Bates have already earned the honor, while Jarrett and Pitts have earned Pro Bowl honors. Robinson, the rookie out of the bunch, is the favorite to take home the OROY award. This one seems attainable.
Falcons rank inside the top 10 for sacks
Due to all of the Falcons’ defensive acquisitions, this might seem possible. But let me give some background to explain why this is a bold prediction.
The Falcons posted 18 sacks in 2021 (32nd) and 21 in 2022 (31st). In comparison, over the course of those two seasons, the Falcons rank last across the NFL by 23 sacks. For context, that two-year total (39) is 31 sacks behind what the Eagles posted in 2022 alone. Let me say that again… the Falcons’ two-year sack total is 31 sacks behind what the Eagles posted in one season!
That’s crazy. The Falcons haven’t ranked in the top 10 in sacks since 2004, and I’m boldly predicting the Falcons to make it back there for the first time in nearly two decades.
Bijan Robinson leads the league in yards from scrimmage
The last time a running back didn’t lead the league in yards from scrimmage was Julio Jones in 2015. Here are the past leaders:
- 2022: Josh Jacobs (2,053 yards)
- 2021: Jonathan Taylor (2,171 yards)
- 2020: Derrick Henry (2,141 yards)
- 2019: Christian McCaffrey (2,392)
- 2018: Saquon Barkley (2,028)
- 2017: Todd Gurley (2,093 yards)
- 2016: David Johnson (2,118 yards)
Bijan Robinson is going to garner around 300 touches, in my estimation. If he gains around seven yards per touch, which is certainly possible, he’ll have around 2,000 yards from scrimmage. That would be enough to at least put him in the conversation.
Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire