Home games: Seattle, Chicago, Carolina, Detroit, Denver, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Tampa Bay.
Road games: Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota, Carolina, New Orleans, LA Chargers, Kansas City, Tampa Bay.
Projected record: 5-11
It seems identifiable, the exact moment the Atlanta Falcons went from the next Super Bowl champion to a relentless free fall which almost cost coach Dan Quinn his job last season.
Departed running back DeVonta Freeman was too slow to pick up his blitz assignment and New England All Pro linebacker Dont’a Hightower laid the boom on Matt Ryan. As Hightower made the strip sack of regular season MVP Ryan, speedster Aldrick Robinson was wide open which would’ve seen the receiver walk into the end zone and stretch the game to a 35-3 Falcons lead and certain victory.
The Falcons are 17-15 in regular season play since the Super Bowl but it has been the drop off in week to week performance which has been so dire.
Moving into season 2020, the Falcons are attempting to overhaul a shoddy defence and reignite the potential of a loaded offensive unit.
Let’s being where there is something to love – the offence.
Matt Ryan wears much of the blame for the team’s struggles but his play has been consistently strong. Sure, nowhere near the MVP level he was in their Super Bowl season but still far superior to many of his starting contemporaries.
Todd Gurley joins the team and on paper that’s a magnificent acquisition but the Georgia product has been declining since the Rams own Super Bowl appearance in SB LIII. Gurley’s 2018/19 season produced 21 TD and north of 1,800 total yards. TG knocked out 15 games last season but failed to rush for 1,000 yards and had just 207 receiving yards.
His ability to contribute heavily will be key to anything the Falcons hope to do, especially in the play-action game.
On the perimeter, Julio Jones remains one of the game’s premier wideouts but the remainder of the receiving core is pretty average. Calvin Ridley is one who must improve and become a regular contributor with his deep ball skills.
Defensively, things are way up in the sky.
Keanu Neal is a really good player at safety, Deion Jones has been an excellent linebacker when healthy and Grady Jerrett can do some things inside but this unit needs serious improvement.
A.J. Terrell was a round one selection and will be asked to start at corner from the get-go whilst Dante Fowler Jr has had his moments with Jacksonville and Los Angeles.
Coach Quinn’s job is squarely on the line and with a schedule that sees the Falcons face New Orleans and Tampa Bay twice, as well as a trip to Kansas City, on the way to the playoffs – IF they get that close.
I have this team going 5-11. They’re nothing resembling the NFC Champions on a few seasons ago and Coach Quinn could be the first coach unloaded.