Outside of facing last-place opponents, the Falcons really lucked out. The club will face the three worst divisions in football.
Everyone could probably agree that the NFC South is the worst division in the league. It’s the only one that doesn’t feature a single club among the 12 favorites to win the Super Bowl. The Saints are the closest, given their quarterback situation with Derek Carr, but New Orleans’ roster isn’t heads and shoulders better than Atlanta’s. In fact, I’d argue the Falcons have a marginally better roster than the Saints.
The Falcons’ hopes hinge on Desmond Ridder, so there’s reason to be skeptical of a third-rounder bringing the club to the postseason. Moreover, the Panthers aren’t far behind either of those clubs. The Buccaneers are in full rebuild mode, though. It very well could send a sub-.500 team to the playoffs.
Back to the main point, the NFC South drew the NFC North and AFC South — the next two worst divisions in football.
The NFC North is superior, in my opinion, but it’s nitpicking. The Lions are the favorites to take their first-ever NFC North crown but are relying on Jared Goff. The Vikings are being undervalued, but Kirk Cousins is still in town; don’t trust Minnesota. The Bears are hoping Justin Fields takes the next step in his development, but outside of a few spectacular runs, the Ohio State product leaves a lot to be desired in the passing game. Jordan Love takes over for Aaron Rodgers with virtually no experience. The division could also send a sub-.500 team to the postseason.
And last but certainly not least… the AFC South. The Jaguars are the only formidable team here. Trevor Lawrence is the real deal, but the Falcons get them in London, where anything can happen. The Texans and Colts are relying on rookies, and the Titans could as well if they move off Ryan Tannehill in favor of Will Levis. I understand Desmond Ridder hasn’t accrued much NFL experience, but Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud have infinitely worst supporting casts.
The Falcons are in the worst division in football, have a fourth-place schedule, and drew the other two worst divisions in 2023. This is an extremely favorable schedule.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire