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6 reasons the Falcons will make the playoffs


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https://thefalconswire.usatoday.com/lists/atlanta-falcons-nfl-news-nfl-playoffs-2021/

The Atlanta Falcons missed the postseason for the third year in a row in 2020, forcing team owner Arthur Blank to hire a new head coach and general manager during the offseason. The new staff was brought in to create long-term stability on the field, but by keeping Matt Ryan and not drafting a quarterback in the top five, it would appear the team thinks it can win now.

Here are six reasons the Falcons will make the playoffs in 2021.

Matt Ryan, offense in position to thrive under Arthur Smith

Matt Ryan’s calm, quiet demeanor will always rub certain people the wrong way, but his Hall of Fame numbers and NFL MVP award are evidence he can play at an elite level when the circumstances are right. Entering his fourteenth season, expectations aren’t particularly high for the 36-year-old quarterback, especially after Ryan’s No. 1 option for the last decade, Julio Jones, was traded to the Titans.

If you look a bit closer, though, the Falcons hired one of the game’s best play-callers to fix their stale offense. Arthur Smith worked his way up the ranks in Tennessee and gained respect all around the league for his offensive innovation.

“I’ve been copying his s— for the last couple years,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said of Smith during a recent Spotify interview.

The Falcons drafted the best non-quarterback in the draft and have a budding superstar in Calvin Ridley who’s playing for a contract. As for Ryan, he’s done well in situations like this before. If Smith can create some form of a running game in Atlanta, the offense can potentially go back to being a strength.

Rule change

The NFL agreed to a 17-game season and will again have 14 playoff teams in 2021. This means there will again be three wild card teams in each conference, further helping Atlanta’s chances if Tampa Bay runs away with the NFC South. Last year, the Falcons’ brutal 0-5 start included several late-game collapses that made things seem slightly worse than they were.

Obviously, you’re not going to make the playoffs when you only win four or five games, although the team still had an outside shot at the postseason in 2020 despite the slow start. With a schedule that’s somewhat soft early on, the Falcons should be in much better shape for a playoff spot in the NFC.

Drew Brees is gone

Things got ugly in the playoffs for Drew Brees and he won’t be returning in 2021. It’s Jameis Winston’s turn to lead what is still a very talented Saints team this season. Winston, the former No. 1 overall pick, still has serious upside if he can cut down on the turnovers. But will he be able to handle the pressure of replacing the best player in franchise history?

If the expectation is to win the NFC South again, I think Winston falls short. However, the quarterback’s aggressive nature should fit in well with head coach Sean Payton and I ultimately think he’s a good fit to take the mantle from Brees. This season, though, New Orleans is going to miss No. 9.

Third-easiest strength of schedule

 

Atlanta’s upcoming slate of opponents had a combined winning percentage of .454 in 2020, the third-lowest mark in the NFL. You never want to get carried away when it comes to strength of schedule, but it’s honestly tough to go through each game and not come away with double-digit wins.

Some potentially winnable non-division games include Week 16 against the Lions, Week 5 against the Jets and Week 12 against the Jaguars. After a few years of having schedules ranked among the toughest in the league, the Falcons could finally catch somewhat of a break in 2021.

Too much hype for Tampa Bay

 

The Buccaneers were aggressive last offseason and it paid off with head coach Bruce Arians’ first Super Bowl, and Tom Brady’s seventh. After another potentially great offseason, Tampa Bay is a trendy pick to win the NFC again. Brady will be 44 this season, and while he obviously can still pick defenses apart, I don’t think the Buccaneers will easily sustain success the way the Patriots did for so long.

Last year, everything went right for the most part. With the Saints potentially taking a step back, all the pressure is on Tampa Bay to dominate what is still a really good division. Brady has done it before, but the rest of the players may be in for a reality check as they get every opponent’s very best shot.

Panthers have another new QB

Carolina has sleeper potential, but it also feels like there’s potential for disaster. The team traded for quarterback Sam Darnold, a calculated risk that could pay off or result in a frustrating year of offensive transition. On the bright side, superstar running back Christian McCaffrey returns after an injury-riddled 2020 season — which should take some pressure off of Darnold.

Defensively, the front seven could be one of the best in the division. Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, Brian Burns and Haason Reddick will be tough for any offensive line to block. If Darnold works out, then the Panthers have Super Bowl upside. Still, the amount of pressure being placed on the relatively unproven signal-caller to be the missing piece in Carolina could be too much to overcome.

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37 minutes ago, ya_boi_j said:

Matt Ryan’s calm, quiet demeanor will always rub certain people the wrong way,

This is such a weird thing to say. If he was a crazy party animal who struggled they wouldn't like him either.

Also running backs, especially those who put up such big numbers as McCaffery, don't just bounce back after injury. He might never be the same player.

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3 minutes ago, Jesus said:

This is such a weird thing to say. If he was a crazy party animal who struggled they wouldn't like him either.

Also running backs, especially those who put up such big numbers as McCaffery, don't just bounce back after injury. He might never be the same player.

Based on replies I've seen from most of the people who don't like him, this is pretty accurate. How many yes have you seen people complain about him being boring while not referring to lack of mobile? 

That's rhetorical btw

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I honestly can see the Falcons scaring some people.  Last season, we managed to somewhat turn a moribund defense into mediocrity.  We made Mahomes and Co **** their pants, and we managed to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory on at least 5 occasions last year.  We have upgraded or at least solidified several spots.  I daresay we have potential depth in a few areas that we are not usually blessed with.  Conversely, we have some questions, and perhaps scheme and coaching absolve those of total ineptitude.  

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35 minutes ago, Herr Doktor said:

I honestly can see the Falcons scaring some people.  Last season, we managed to somewhat turn a moribund defense into mediocrity.  We made Mahomes and Co **** their pants, and we managed to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory on at least 5 occasions last year.  We have upgraded or at least solidified several spots.  I daresay we have potential depth in a few areas that we are not usually blessed with.  Conversely, we have some questions, and perhaps scheme and coaching absolve those of total ineptitude.  

I believe we'll either barely make it in the playoffs this year , or barely miss by one game. As I've said a couple of times, It's a matter of how many games will it take for the players to realize this team is loaded with talent, And the sky is the limit. IMO, it will be how soon they buy into the New Coaches .. And system.

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7 hours ago, ya_boi_j said:

Based on replies I've seen from most of the people who don't like him, this is pretty accurate. How many yes have you seen people complain about him being boring while not referring to lack of mobile? 

That's rhetorical btw

The complaints went beyond just being boring in interviews.  We have posters who claim he has no fire.  I have seen Matty Ice rip into players in a way that was probably shocking to Dan Quinn.  If only our HC had the fire of Matt Ryan...

With Arthur Smith, no one has a place to run to for coddling after a good *** chewing. 

When I was working, were the worst employees the ones the manager coddled, or were the employees coddled by the manager the worst employees?  Chicken or egg?

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We are not as bad as a lot of fans and others think. I am not saying we are the best either. We have lost to many games by doing stupid stuff. It has not been the talent for the most part. It has been a lot of bad coaching, scheme issues and some talent over the last 2-4 years. With a few tweaks we would have won several more games I believe. 

At worst I think we win 7 games and that is with a lot going wrong. I could see us easily winning closer to 12 if things get going right rather quickly. We are probable somewhere in the middle though around 9 or 10.

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5 hours ago, Kaptain Krazy said:

The addition of another wild card team is the biggest reason the Falcons have a chance. 

OK, that is a big factor.  But, I am sticking with my original assessment.  By far, the greatest improvement the Falcons made after the 2020 season was ridding themselves of Dirk Koetter.  I cannot imagine anything coming close to this.

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2 hours ago, Draftnut57 said:

I believe we'll either barely make it in the playoffs this year , or barely miss by one game. As I've said a couple of times, It's a matter of how many games will it take for the players to realize this team is loaded with talent, And the sky is the limit. IMO, it will be how soon they buy into the New Coaches .. And system.

Yes.  9-8 or 10-7 would be a nice start.  Any record that gets us into the playoffs would be a good season. Even one and done in the playoffs would make me happy.  If we can get there, then I think Font and Smith build the team they want in 2022.

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10 hours ago, ya_boi_j said:

If Darnold works out, then the Panthers have Super Bowl upside. Still, the amount of pressure being placed on the relatively unproven signal-caller to be the missing piece in Carolina could be too much to overcome.

Do WHAT?

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