For multiple reasons, Falcons fans are starting to form expectations around their team. Coming off back-to-back seven win seasons, this is by far the best roster Arthur Smith has had at his disposal since he was hired.
The defense is improved dramatically at all three levels, and the offense only got better with the additions of Bijan Robinson and Matthew Bergeron. They also got an addition by subtraction at quarterback, with Desmond Ridder taking over for Marcus Mariota, who was terrible last season. The Falcons want to pound the rock, control the clock, and get stops on defense, which is a formula that can result in a lot of wins if done correctly, especially in a weak NFC South.
Atlanta has as good of a chance as anyone to win the division. The Buccaneers are entering a full rebuild. The Panthers have a lot of hope for the future with Bryce Young and a new regime, but success is hard to come by consistently in the first year of a new coaching staff, especially with a rookie quarterback. The Saints are the favorites after landing Derek Carr, but nobody should be sold on Dennis Allen getting the best out of his roster based on his track record. The NFC South is wide open, but Pro Football Focus still believes the Falcons are at least one year away from making their first playoff appearance since 2017.
- Playoffs: No
- Reason: One more year away
This was a tricky decision, as the Falcons should be in contention for the NFC South title, along with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints have the easiest schedule in the league next year, according to win-loss records from last year, while the Falcons are right behind them. Atlanta also deserves praise for being aggressive in bringing in new faces on defense this offseason, including David Onyemata (64.0 PFF grade in 2022), Calais Campbell (76.9) and Jessie Bates III (71.9).
But with quarterback Desmond Ridder entering his first season as the team’s full-time starter, and with all the new pieces on defense likely needing time to jell, the team may be a year away from earnestly making a run at the playoffs. It could certainly happen this year, but if it does, their time in the postseason will likely be short-lived.
A lot of people down on the Falcons going into the upcoming season haven’t been paying attention, but Trevor Sikkema is someone I respect, and he hits the nail on the head with his explanation.
Could the Falcons make the playoffs? Absolutely. They will have an improved defense, and their offense will be fun to watch with Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jonnu Smith, and Arthur Smith pulling the strings.
However, Ridder hasn’t proved anything just yet, and there are a lot of new faces on the defense, including a new defensive coordinator. Things may not start clicking for that group until mid-season, which could cause the Falcons to fall into a hole that they cannot overcome. Regardless of whether this team makes it to the playoffs or not, they certainly aren’t close to being considered Super Bowl contenders.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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