The Atlanta Falcons had a disastrous year, finishing an embarrassing 4-12 on the season. A rough start to the season turned into a massive snowball of defeats that left them with a 2-9 record. They finally shook free of their collective shellshock to wrap up the season with two wins in five games, with two of those three losses being one point defeats.
14. Atlanta Falcons (2013 Record: 4-12)
I had them as one of the top teams in the NFC heading into the season, which led me to keep picking them well into the season believing – wrongly – that they would eventually turn things around. They did not. Sometimes in football, talented teams fall flat on their face. I still see far to many weapons for that to happen two years in a row, but the Falcons will have an uphill battle being in the second most competitive division in the NFL.
Key Losses: Tony Gonzalez (retired), Jason Snelling (retired), Thomas DeCoud, Asante Samuel, Kevin Cone
Key Acquisitions: Javier Arenas, Gabe Carimi, Devin Hester, Bear Pascoe, Pail Soliai, Josh Wilson, Jon Asamoah, Tyson Jackson
In my view, the biggest issue the Falcons faced in 2013 was keeping the pressure up front out of the face of Matt Ryan. They must have agreed, because they wasted little time picking up Jake Matthews number six overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. The other main issue was their horrifyingly bad defense, so seven of their eight remaining picks after Matthews went to the defense. Not only that, but they paid attention to the defense heavily in free agency as well. However, some out there think this roster is one of the worst in the NFL, but I just don't see it. I can name at least a dozen teams with more problems than the Falcons until I start debating the issue.
The Falcons 2014 regular season schedule looks rather soft, but projecting that is always a crapshoot. The big wild card here is how they adjust to life without Tony Gonzalez. Even so, they just have too many offensive weapons not to be competitive in most games. I think they scrap their way to a winning record, but fall short of the playoffs for the second straight season.
Projected Record: 9-7
Kyle: The Falcons and the Texans - two teams that completely, unexpectedly fell apart in 2013. Maybe Matt Schaub teams are cursed. Enjoy it, Oakland!
Jon: The Falcons were not as bad last season as they looked on paper. They can be a .500 team again with more consistent play from Matt Ryan.
Topher: The Falcons fell into the gutter last season with a wide variety of injuries and it showed. But with all their players returning and a quiet, but steady, off-season, hard to not see them duking it out with the rest of their talented division. I don’t see them beating out the Panthers or Saints, but I think they will still be a dangerous team anyways.
Jacob: There is no way that the Falcons will repeat their 2013 season, but it’s hard to see them finishing higher than third in one of the best divisions in the league. The Panthers and Saints are both playoff teams, and the Bucs, like the Falcons, made some great moves in the off-season. The Falcons will improve on a very weak season, but will be hurt by their tough division. 7-9 wins.
Laurie: It remains to be seen whether the 2014 team will be more like the 2013 bottom-dwellers or the 2012 team that made it to the NFC championship game. Adding some talent to the offensive line makes the latter more likely.
Pete: The problem with the Falcons last year is they did NOTHING to get better in the offseason. They figured that they had a great team, so if they just stood pat, they would enter the season great. Well, unfortunately for them, the rest of the NFL tried to get better while they sat on the shore and watch the ship sail… much like Seattle is doing (which is why they won’t make the playoffs and should be ranked right around here in these power rankings). Anyways, back on topic. I think the Falcons will be a playoff contender, yet barely miss the cut.