The Atlanta Falcons fired Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn, putting their ugly 2020 season behind them by hiring new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot. At the fourth spot in the draft, Atlanta has a slew of interesting choices to choose from. Matt Ryan is closer to retirement than his MVP season but still has enough left in the tank for Smith to work with — just look at what Aaron Rodgers did with a scheme that supports him. Should Atlanta pull the trigger on a quarterback? Should they address the defensive side of the ball? Or should they add another offensive piece to give Arthur Smith the best chance to replicate Atlanta’s 2016 success?
Four of six defensive backs that played significant snaps in 2020 are gone, and Dante Fowler‘s contract has been shortened to expire after 2021. There are plenty of reasons to trade back to acquire more draft capital and fill the voids left by so many in free agency. Depending on what the Falcons’ brass decides to do in this month’s draft, the team’s over/under win total could provide terrific value.
Many sites — including DraftKings and ActionNetwork — have Atlanta’s win total at 7, taking into account the 17th game added recently. Even if the Falcons decided to take Ryan’s replacement, I believe this is an achievable number under the new regime. Winning four more games than they did in 2020 should be no problem for a team that didn’t lose that much talent and improved exponentially schematically. I have long been saying that Arthur Smith will provide more in terms of wins and losses than any single free agent or rookie acquisition could in 2021. The importance of scheme is sometimes understated when the NFL is littered with the best athletes in the world.
Now, if Atlanta chooses to go with a prospect that can immediately help the team in 2021 — like Penei Sewell or Kyle Pitts — then this win total will be a glaring problem for Vegas. It is only the opening line, but having the Panthers at 7.5 wins with Sam Darnold is a slap in the face to Matt Ryan and Arthur Smith. The Saints have a 9 win total, which I would bet the under on given their uncertainty at quarterback. Simultaneously, the defending Super Bowl champions’ win total opened at 11.5, which is right about where I expect them to fall. All in all, Atlanta has as good of a chance as New Orleans and Carolina to reach nine wins.
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