After two straight playoff seasons, the general expectation was that the Atlanta Falcons would be in the mix once again in 2018. That didn’t come to pass. The team was in the hunt through the midway part of the season, but a five-game losing streak doomed them to also-ran status.
Atlanta finished up the year with a mark of 7-9. In addition to the lengthy losing streak which lasted from November into December, the club also had a three-game skid in the early part of the year. They were only able to win consecutive games once before the Week 8 bye.
After losing their fifth game in a row, the team stood at 4-9. On a positive note, the Falcons did not fold up like a tent from that point. Instead, they closed out the year with three straight wins, winning the first two games over that stretch by double digits.
The offense remained pretty solid in spite of the team’s overall struggles. Atlanta finished up the year with an average of 25.9 points per game, which was good enough for 10th in the league. Defense was a different story as the club gave up 26.4 points per contest, which left them in 25th place in the league.
Looking ahead to this season, the Falcons are the second choice of the NFL betting sites to win the NFC South. They’re well behind the favored Saints on the odds chart, but they have some breathing room over both the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On the conference side, there are eight teams with more favorable odds to reach the Super Bowl than the Falcons. That suggests that the team should be in the hunt, but there’s a good chance they come up short again on the playoffs barring some unexpected improvement.
So is that a fair assessment of the state of the Falcons as we get set for the kickoff of the 2019 season? Can Atlanta improve on last year’s seven-win campaign?
Let’s a take a detailed look and find out. First up, we’ll recap the 2018 season that was for Atlanta.
Atlanta Falcons 2018 Season Recap
Record: 7-9 | Standings: 2-NFC South | Playoffs: N/A
The Falcons opened up the 2018 season on the road in Philadelphia versus the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Neither team could get much going on offense as the Eagles held on for an 18-12 victory.
Atlanta would have their home opener the following week, taking down the Carolina Panthers by a score of 31-24. The New Orleans Saints came to town the following week. A shootout erupted with the Saints pulling out a 43-37 victory.
The team lost another close decision at home the following week, falling by one point to the Cincinnati Bengals. Things went further south in Week 5 as the club traveled to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. It was a one-sided affair as the hosts won going away by a score of 41-17.
The Falcons rebounded with two straight home victories prior to the Week 8 bye. At 3-4, the team was still alive in the playoff hunt. A big road win over the Washington Redskins brought the club to .500, but that would be the last time the team would be there for the rest of year.
An excruciating five-game losing streak would follow. Four of the losses over that span were of the double-digit variety. It was starting to look like the Falcons would wave the white flag on the season, but they managed to pull it together for three straight wins.
A record of 7-9 was certainly a disappointment, but the fact that the club managed to pull it together at the end could serve as a building block for the coming year.
Atlanta Falcons Offseason Moves
A disappointing season would result in changes in Atlanta. Dan Quinn remains as head coach, and he will now add defensive coordinator to his list of responsibilities after the team parted ways with Marquand Manuel. Steve Sarkisian was relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator and replaced by Dirk Koetter.
The team was active in free agency as well. Among those who left for greener pastures are RB Tevin Coleman, CB Justin Bethel, and DE Bruce Irvin. The team shored up the offensive line with the signing of James Carpenter and Jamon Brown. New additions on defense include DT Tyeler Davison and S J.J. Wilcox.
The Falcons used their first-round selections on OG Chris Lindstrom out of Boston College and Washington OT Kaleb McGary. That would leave the team off the board until round four due to trades. Later round selections included Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield and DE John Cominsky out of Charleston.
Matt Ryan returns behind center, while Devonta Freeman will lead the way out of the backfield. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu are atop the depth chart at wideout, while Austin Hooper is tops at tight end. As for the defense, we’ll see if Quinn can do a better job now that he has taken all of the responsibility for the unit’s performance.
Atlanta Falcons 2019 Schedule
|1||Sun. Sept.8||at Minnesota Vikings||1:00 PM||FOX|
|2||Sun. Sept.15||vs. Philadelphia Eagles||8:20 PM||NBC|
|3||Sun. Sept.22||at Indianapolis Colts||1:00 PM||CBS|
|4||Sun. Sept.29||vs. Tennessee Titans||1:00 PM||CBS|
|5||Sun. Oct.6||at Houston Texans||1:00 PM||FOX|
|6||Sun. Oct.13||at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 PM||FOX|
|7||Sun. Oct.20||vs. Los Angeles Rams||1:00 PM||FOX|
|8||Sun. Oct.27||vs. Seattle Seahawks||1:00 PM||FOX|
|10||Sun. Nov.10||at New Orleans Saints||1:00 PM||FOX|
|11||Sun. Nov.17||at Carolina Panthers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|12||Sun. Nov.24||vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|13||Thu. Nov.28||vs. New Orleans Saints||8:20 PM||NBC|
|14||Sun. Dec.8||vs. Carolina Panthers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|15||Sun. Dec.15||at San Francisco 49ers||4:25 PM||FOX|
|16||Sun. Dec.22||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00 PM||FOX|
|17||Sun. Dec.29||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 PM||FOX|
Atlanta won’t have a bye until Week 9 this season, and they have what looks like a tough road to get there. Of the first eight games on the docket, seven of them will be contested against teams which should arguably be in the playoff hunt.
Following some time off, the Falcons will close out the year with six of its final eight games versus divisional foes. The first five games right out of the bye are all against NFC South squads, but the Falcons will have three straight home games over that stretch.
Both halves of the schedule will be challenging, but if the Falcons get to the bye week in good shape, they have a chance to make some noise. Of course, that’s barring a second-half collapse similar to the one the team slogged through last year.
Atlanta Falcons 2019 Outlook
For the NFC South, it’s looking like the Saints have a good chance of remaining on their perch. The Falcons, Panthers, and Buccaneers all have some work to do. It’s not unreasonable to expect improvement out of all three clubs this year in comparison to 2018. Three wins is a fair expectation for Atlanta, while four could portend an interesting year.
The remaining NFC schedule brings road dates with the Vikings, Cardinals, and 49ers. The Falcons will play host to the Eagles, Rams, and Seahawks. The home portion of that series of games looks more daunting. Again, three wins for these six games is fair, while four is possible if all goes well.
Interconference play will bring games versus the AFC South. The Falcons will be on the road for games with the Colts and Texans, and on the road for games with the Titans and Jaguars. This part of the schedule is tricky, as a case can be made for a record of anywhere between 1-3 to 3-1 for the Falcons.
Atlanta Falcons 2019 Win Total Odds and Pick
Here is where the oddsmakers have the Falcons pegged for 2019. The benchmark has been set as a two-game improvement over last year’s seven-win season.
Total Regular Season Wins:
Betting odds provided by: MyBookie.ag
The Falcons will have little trouble putting points on the board as long as the Ryan-Jones combo is around, not to mention the talented supporting cast. The team made a number of moves to improve the offensive line as well, so we could see even more production in 2019.
On the other side of the ball, it’s not as clear cut. While Quinn is a capable defensive mind, head coaching and coordinator responsibilities place a lot on his plate. If Atlanta has trouble stopping opponents once again, the fingers will all be pointed in one direction.
We’re expecting to see some improvement on the defensive side of the ball for the Falcons in 2019, but we’re not sold that it will be enough for two additional victories. That places us on the Under for Atlanta in 2019.