Predicting the Atlanta Falcons’ NFC South record


The Atlanta Falcons finished with a 6-10 record in 2014 in what was an extremely up and down year. The team battled injuries on both sides of the ball and ultimately led to the firing of head coach Mike Smith and several player cuts. What was most intriguing about the Falcons’ 2014 season was the division play. Atlanta went 5-1 in the NFC South with the only loss coming to the Carolina Panthers in week 17.

The Falcons managed only one victory outside of the division in a home game against the Arizona Cardinals. How often does a team go 5-1 in division play and only manage six wins on the season? That may be the only time in NFL history that has happened but prove me wrong if I am.

So, with a new coach in Dan Quinn and a very different 2015 roster, how good will the Falcons be in division play this year? The Falcons managed to sweep the rival New Orleans Saints for the first time in nine years and did so with dramatic fashion. Atlanta downed the Saints 37-34 in an overtime victory in week one and finished them off 30-14 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 30-14.

Dec 21, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) catches the ball behind New Orleans Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson (21) during the third quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons also swept the 2-14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers highlighted by a 56-14 home victory in week three. The Falcons defeated the Panthers on the road 19-17 but lost 34-3 to end the season. A lot has changed in the NFC South in the last few months and might not be so easy to repeat a 5-1 record. Or maybe it will be.

The Saints had the most interesting offseason of them all. They traded away pro bowl tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Kenny Stills and didn’t replace either one in free agency or via the draft. They also no longer have middle linebacker Curtis Lofton or outside linebacker Junior Galette who is set to be cut any day now for off the field issues.

The Panthers didn’t do a whole lot in the offseason other than lock up quarterback Cam Newton to a contract extension worth more than 100 million dollars. The real question surrounding the Panthers are, did they get any better heading into 2015? I’m not sure they did. If anything they have the same talent level as they did last year which is average at best.

The Buccaneers drafted coveted quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in this years draft with hopes that he can provide stable play out of that position. The Buccaneers haven’t had a stable quarterback in quite some time and will need Winston to produce right out of the gate in order to succeed. Tampa bay did a great job of building their offense in the offseason, but did a terrible job of building the defense. They lost numerous pieces on a unit that was already bad to begin with.

So, with that being said, can the Falcons match their 2014 NFC record in 2015? I believe they can.

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Even with Winston, the Falcons should have no problem picking apart Tampa Bay’s defense and halting Winston on offense. This should be two easy games for Atlanta to pull off in 2015. As far as the Saints go, it is no easy task to beat them no matter how good the talent level is on either team. The Falcons swept the Saints in 2014 while the Saints swept the Falcons in 2013. It won’t be easy, but if the Saints are unable to move the ball through the air like they have been able to over the past five years then this could be a disaster season for the ‘who dat nation.’

At worst the Falcons will split this series but will have an excellent shot at sweeping them for the second season in a row. The Panthers have won the NFC South two years in a row which had never been done before in this divisions short history. So, to think that they will win it three years in a row is pretty far-fetched. Both of these games will be cat fights no pun intended but shouldn’t be overly that hard.

The Falcons will most likely split the two-game series with Carolina but could very well sweep them. The Falcons are one of the most underrated teams heading into 2015  and should be feared by everyone. Much like the Atlanta Hawks in 2014, this team could take the NFC by storm in 2015 and leave their opponents with a bad taste in their mouths.

At best I see the Falcons posting another 5-1 record in the NFC South. I feel extremely confident that the dirty birds will finish with at least a 4-2 record with everything they have done to improve. If the Falcons can go 5-1 with a so-so roster in 2014, then there is no reason why they couldn’t do it again with a much better roster.

Expect the team with the best NFC South record to win the division in 2015. It will be close, but it is time for the Falcons to Rise Up and take the division crown once again.