History hasn’t been the best in regards to the Atlanta Falcons, however in 2019, history is finally going to be on the Falcons side. The division is looking weaker and this is the perfect opportunity for the Falcons to take back the NFC South crown.
The NFC South Division was created prior to the 2002 NFL season and saw the Panthers, Saints and Falcons come over from the NFC West and the Bucs from the NFC Central. Since the creation of the division, the Atlanta Falcons have won the division just four times – 2004, 2010, 2012 and 2016.
It is going to take the Buccaneers a few years to compete for the division because they hired a new coaching staff and they lost their best defensive player Kwon Alexander in free agency to the 49ers. The Panthers have talent but have a lot of weaknesses at offensive line, defensive line, and secondary. There are also a lot of questions about Cam Newton’s health as there have been conflicting reports about whether or not he can play the 2019 season.
The main threat to the Falcons in the 2019 season is the Saints who lost the NFC Championship to the Rams in overtime. History suggests that the Saints could be in trouble in 2019. In the last 10 years at least one team that played in the conference championship game did not make the playoffs the following season.
There have been plenty of reasons why a team did not make the playoffs the following year but a common reason why is a team went all in one year and then dug themselves a hole for the next few seasons. The Saints went all in this year giving up two first round picks for a project pass rusher in Marcus Davenport and stretched themselves thin on cap space.
Examples of teams that loaded up for one year
- 2010 Vikings
- 2013 Falcons
- 2014 49ers
- 2015 Broncos
In 2009, the Vikings went all in on 40-year-old QB Brett Farve. That season was Super Bowl or bust for the Vikings and they lost the NFC Championship game to the Saints. The Vikings missed the playoffs the following year because their veteran players not having anything left in the tank.
In 2012, the Falcons loaded up for that season by surrounding Matt Ryan with plenty of weapons and most notably Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons would end up losing the NFC Championship game to the 49ers and miss the playoffs the following year because of an injury bug.
In 2013, the 49ers loaded up their team to make a championship run. The 49ers lost a heart breaking game to the Seahawks and completely fell apart after that season. Navarro Bowman suffered a gruesome leg injury and would miss the next season. The 49ers would then go on and see LB Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retire, and Aldon Smith had his off the field issues.
In 2015 the Broncos went all in as this was going to be Peyton Manning’s final season. John Elway put together a historic defense keeping Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, Chris Harris, Bradley Roby, Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Darian Stewart, Brandon Marshall and Derek Wolfe on the roster. They lost a lot of talent the following year because of cap space and missed the playoffs in 2016.
The Saints have stretched themselves thin on cap space and do not have a first, third, or fourth round pick in the upcoming draft. The Falcons can take advantage of this season by having a strong draft class and benefiting from having a weaker division.
The Falcons still need help Defensive Tackle and acquiring depth but 90 percent of the starters are already on the roster. If the Falcons take the best player available approach in the draft they will be in great shape for the 2019 season. The Falcons have favorable match-ups versus the other teams in our division when healthy.
Between the Saints, Buccaneers, and Panthers none of them have the secondary to cover the Falcons receiving core. The Falcons also have the defensive personnel to slow down any offense.
As long as the Falcons are healthy in 2019 they will win the NFC South.