What are the Falcons chances of going worst to first in NFC South?

DKB221120103 chi vs atl

The Falcons have a legitimate chance of winning the NFC South in 2023, which would be a worst-to-first finish for Atlanta.

The 1999 Indianapolis Colts, 2008 New York Jets, and 2017 Philadelphia Eagles are all holders of the “worst to first” title, and there have been some unbelievable finishes.

The Eagles went from last place in 2016 to 13-3 and first place in 2017 on their way to winning a Super Bowl on the back of Nick Foles. The 2009 Saints, 2001 Patriots, and 1999 (St. Louis) Rams all vaulted themselves to Super Bowl champions from a last-place schedule.

Talking about the Super Bowl for the Falcons is a bit overzealous, but the division is certainly up for grabs. With Tom Brady retiring, there’s a scenario where the best quarterback in the division is Desmond Ridder, depending on what the Panthers and Saints do at signal caller.

The Buccaneers are turning to Kyle Trask and are seemingly mailing it in already. Before Brady, Tampa Bay was a lousy franchise, and I’ll wager they revert back to that underwhelming football club. Despite the Bucs giving Trask a vote of confidence, nobody outside of that organization is expecting much from the Florida product.

The Saints are pushing further and further into a delusional state of believing the team can be competitive. New Orleans’ annual tradition is to restructure its highest-paid players to create cap space, fielding an aging and expensive team. Dennis Allen was exactly what I thought he would be, and the they don’t have a signal caller. Jameis Winston is a cut candidate but would still be an underwhelming option to start. Who knows what the Saints are going to do, but even Derek Carr, the most readily available and experienced option, wouldn’t make me feel great about their chances to win the division.

As I see it, the Panthers are in the best position to take the NFC South. The roster is in a real place to compete; the quarterback position is the only question. Carolina has brought in an impressive staff under Frank Reich. The club is poised to go big game hunting this offseason, and I wouldn’t be surprised in any direction they went. They’ll run away with the division if they can bring in a competent quarterback.

However, as we have seen before, the teams in this division aren’t always well-run. The Falcons can very well enter the season with Desmond Ridder being the best quarterback in the NFC South. Out of all the last-place finishers, Atlanta has to be seen as the favorite to go from worst to first in its respective division. The Washington Commanders have an argument because of how talented the roster is, but the NFC East features a far more competitive field than the South.

Despite finishing last in 2022, the Falcons boasted the same record as the Saints and Panthers. One could argue Atlanta was the second-best team in the division last year. With Tom Brady retiring, it is wide open, and Arthur Smith’s run-heavy offense could easily lead Desmond Ridder and the Falcons to hosting a playoff game for the first time in years.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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