In this series, exactly as the title suggests, I will be predicting each offensive position group’s statistics for the 2020 season, keeping in mind several factors such as the strength of schedule and production from past years.
Beginning with Matt Ryan, the Atlanta offense has been in the top-eight in passing since 2011. Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and Matt Ryan throwing for 4,000 yards regardless of schedule difficulty. This year should be no different.
Consider two things: there are multiple games with the potential of turning into a shootout this season, and Ryan was sacked last year more than any other. With a bolstered offensive line, returning a potential All-Pro guard in Chris Lindstrom, Matt Ryan should have more time to throw than he has since 2016 — when he was the MVP of the league.
Examining the defenses Matt Ryan will face is also crucial in predicting his statistics. The Falcons play more than half of their schedule against better than average defensive units, featuring games against the Broncos, Vikings, Saints, Bears, Chargers, and Packers. But they also have some favorable matchups against the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Lions, Seahawks, and Panthers. Luckily only one division rival has had a reliable defense over the last couple of seasons (the Saints). Though New Orleans is always susceptible to regression in that area. Still, there is potential for the Buccaneers to boast a sneaky good defense, which would hinder Ryan’s ability to put up the numbers that fans are used to seeing.
To predict the number of attempts Ryan will have is a little tricky, but considering he threw the ball 616 times last season — the most since 2014 — in his first year with Dirk Koetter calling the plays, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. If Ryan throws 35 passes every game, he would throw it 560 times. I think shootouts will force him to sling it even more than that. 590-600 passing attempts this season is a reasonable bet.
Without considering his MVP year, Matt Ryan has a career average somewhere around seven and a half yards per attempt. If this is to be true for 2020, he will average between 4,425-4,500 yards for the season. I would expect somewhere between 4,550 and 4,600 though if he is trailing in more games this year.
Ryan’s touchdown numbers have also been consistent among all his statistics for his career. Mid to high 20’s is where I am stuck. I do not think he eclipses 30 touchdowns on the season, but I think he gets close. Considering the defenses he faces and an improved backfield, I will go over the Vegas total but below 30. Ryan will throw 28 touchdowns in 2020.
The interception total I predict will be 14. I land on this number for one primary reason: the Falcon’s road games are brutal, featuring matchups in Kansas City and Green Bay, which are open stadiums where weather will likely play a factor.
2020 stat predictions: 4,474 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions
Simply put, if the team is winning games, Ryan’s stats are most likely to be under what Vegas predicts. However, if they find themselves playing from behind like they were for most of last year, Ryan’s numbers will likely be inflated.