Nobody is confusing the Falcons with a team destined to reach the playoffs this year. And who could blame them? Despite boasting a 7-10 record and not being eliminated from postseason contention until Week 17, they had one of the worst point differentials in the league with even worse supporting statistics.
Five of their seven wins came against organizations who selected in the top six of the draft. The Falcons put up 303.8 total yards per game (28th), allowed 27.0 points per game (29th), and totaled a league-low 18 sacks — less than T.J. Watt (22.5) and Robert Quinn (18.5) had individually. On top of all that, they’ll enter 2022 with a substantial downgrade at the quarterback position after trading away Matt Ryan.
They won’t be the worst team in the league. Additions on the defensive side of the ball should improve that unit. At the same time, the mobility of Desmond Ridder and Marcus Mariota will also accentuate a facet of Arthur Smith’s offense that was previously untapped with a statue of a signal caller like Matt Ryan.
However, Adam Schein of NFL.com believes Atlanta is the least likely of nine teams with a playoff drought of at least three seasons to make it to the postseason in 2022.
Sure, I love Kyle Pitts‘ rare talent and Drake London‘s instant upside. I still believe Arthur Smith can coach. But the 2022 Falcons are flawed in most areas. This is what the ground floor of a rebuild looks like.
Trying to win last year made sense. Tearing it down to build it back up was the only play in 2022. I still like the people in charge for the future of this franchise. But it’s going to be a long, long year in Atlanta.
Now, I won’t argue that the Falcons should be up near the top with the Chargers and Broncos. Both have better quarterback situations and their supporting casts are heads and shoulders better than the Falcons. However, looking at the full rankings is jarring.
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Miami Dolphins
- Denver Broncos
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- New York Giants
- Detroit Lions
- Carolina Panthers
- New York Jets
- Atlanta Falcons
In my opinion, the Jaguars, Giants, Lions, Panthers, Jets, and Falcons are all equally unlikely to make the playoffs. Some might point to the team’s division as a rationale, but I don’t buy it. The AFC South will be battled out between the Colts and Titans; the NFC Noth is the Packers; the Jets have no shot of unseating the Bills. The Giants are the only team with a sliver of hope of taking their division. On top of that, aiming for the wild card is equally hopeless in many of these cases. The AFC and NFC West are as competitive as any division in history; you can bet your last dollar that each will send three teams to the playoffs.