2017 NFL Preseason Outlooks: ATLANTA FALCONS
ATLANTA FALCONS (NFC South)
2016 record: 11-5 (5-1 in division)
KEY ADDITIONS: OC Steve Sarkisian, (R) DE Takk McKinley, DT Dontari Poe, FB Derrick Coleman
KEY DEPARTURES: OC Kyle Shannahan, DT Tyson Jackson, RG Hugh Thornton.
2016 SEASON RECAP
The Regular season was weird for the Falcons. They were playing great football with one of the most high flying offenses in the league and a young hungry defense. But the success of the Dallas Cowboys kept them as a secondary story. That worked to their advantage as they proceeded to destroy teams on their to an 11-5 record and the NFC South division title. QB Matt Ryan made the jump from very good to elite as he won the NFL MVP and was a mere 1 quarter away from a super bowl championship.
The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of pressure on them to recover from their embarrassing loss in Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots. After ending the first half with a 21-3 lead, both the Falcons’ offense and defense disappeared. They lost the game in OT with the final score of 34-28. All of their offensive weapons will be returning for another chance to dominate the NFC South. Most of their offseason attention was on the defensive side of the ball, which ranked 25th in the league last season.
2017 SEASON PREVIEW
Their defense should be healthy and ready to roll come the start of the 2017-18 season. With a full year under their belts, SS Keanu Neal and LB Deion Jones should take an even bigger step into emotionally and verbally leading the team. Vic Beasley Jr hopes to lead the league in sacks like last season (15.5), while rookie DE Takk McKinley recovers from a torn Labrum, anxious to make a name for himself as a threat coming around the edge. Keep an eye on this defense. They have a huge chip on their shoulders.
Falcons 2nd ranked offense can’t afford to carry the whole team again. Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Devonta Freeman can be as explosive as they have been, but it means nothing if the defense can’t protect the lead when it matters. Prepare for the Falcons to take a step or two back as most Super Bowl losers do (See 2016 Carolina Panthers).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, LB Deion Jones, RB Devonta Freeman, LB Vic Beasley Jr., SS Keanu Neal
2017 RECORD PREDICTION
9 – 7