The Falcons’ roster will be dramatically improved from a year ago, and the club’s 2023 pre-draft Vegas win total reflects that.
Prior to the 2022 campaign, Atlanta was pegged to win about four games and exceeded that number by three games. Arthur Smith’s seven wins matched his first season’s win total, but the roster was much worse last year than in 2021.
14-20 without any real investment isn’t anything to be overjoyed about, but it’s respectable. 2023 should be different. There are expectations that the regime didn’t previously have.
The organization has invested significant resources in this class of free agents, and Arthur Blank is surely expecting better results than 7-10. With such a terrible field within the division, it’s not unreasonable to say winning the NFC South is among those expectations.
However, Vegas doesn’t see it that way. DraftKings released their initial win totals for the 2023 NFL season, and the Falcons are sitting at over/under 7.5 wins. The Panthers also sit at 7.5 wins; the Buccaneers are at 6.5 wins, and the Saints are considered the favorites within the division at 9.5 wins.
But the odds within those win totals are interesting. Atlanta is more likely to go over its 7.5 total, while Carolina and New Orleans are more likely to go under theirs.
Despite being favorites to win the division, Vegas doesn’t see the Saints as a much better team than the Falcons. This will be a tight race for the NFC South and home field advantage in the playoffs.
I’d argue Atlanta’s roster is superior to New Orleans in some facets, but the one that will likely be the deciding factor is the quarterback position. The Falcons’ roster is in a much better position in 2023 than the previous two years, but the team is still projected to win a similar amount of games. The reason could be Desmond Ridder.
Atlanta is turning to a third-round draft pick with four games under his belt; Vegas sees him holding the team back in 2023 because the roster is better than it has ever been under the new regime.
Ridder won’t have to play hero ball too often because of the Falcons’ offensive approach. Arthur Smith wants to run the ball and control the game, which will inherently limit the time Ridder can put the ball in harm’s way.
Typically, a rookie quarterback, which is what Desmond Ridder basically is with only four games under his belt, would be thrown into the fire in today’s pass-happy NFL. The Falcons are going to run the ball as much as any offense in the league, thus mitigating the chances Ridder can prevent the team from succeeding.
The Falcons’ win total is subject to change, given how unpredictable the NFL can be. I’m betting over 7.5 wins right now before it goes up. The Falcons are an eight-win team, at least. Don’t overthink it.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire
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