“Party-crasher” Falcons expected to jump to contender status in 2024

NFL: JAN 23 NFC Divisional Round Rams at Buccaneers

The Falcons are expected to contend for a postseason berth this season.

Following a disappointing 2023 campaign in which the club’s playoff drought was extended to six seasons, Arthur Blank pulled the plug on Arthur Smith. The former Falcons head coach had every opportunity to win the division and fell short.

Desmond Ridder just couldn’t get out of his own way, while the Saints and Buccaneers had much better signal callers in Derek Carr and Baker Mayfield, respectively. That’s no longer the case.

With Kirk Cousins, the Falcons are the favorites to win the NFC South, and Bleacher Report ranked Atlanta third among teams most likely to become legitimate contenders, dubbing them the “party-crashers” behind the Jets and Bengals.

The Atlanta Falcons are the highest-ranked “party-crashers” on this list…

The Falcons made the biggest splash in all of free agency this year in an effort to turn those struggles around, handing veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins $45 million per season to become the team’s quarterback.

The 35-year-old told reporters at his introductory press conference that he sees the Falcons as a team that is ready to compete in the NFC South…

The defense isn’t loaded with star power, but the Falcons were quietly 11th in the league last season in yards per game allowed. They also have the eighth overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft…

It’s not a huge stretch to call Cousins the best quarterback in the division right now. And while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the NFC South in 2023, they did so with just nine wins.

Kirk Cousins is the best quarterback in the division, and you could argue the Falcons have the best offensive line in the NFC South too. Hell, you could also argue Cousins’ skill group is better than Carr or Mayfield’s.

The Falcons nearly won the division last year. The Bucs needed a last-minute score to split the season series, and the Falcons pooped their pants against the Panthers, courtesy of Desmond Ridder. If they win those two games like many expected in final minutes of those respective contests, Arthur Smith would still have his job.

Now, with Kirk Cousins, who is head and shoulders better than his predecessor in Atlanta, the Falcons are primed to end their postseason drought. With that being said, true contenders isn’t how I would describe them.

The defense needs work, specifically the pass rush. At this point, it looks a lot like Matt Ryan’s Falcons. The Jets and Bengals have better quarterbacks and better defenses, so I have no issue with where Atlanta ranks on this list.

Photographer: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire

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