Will the Falcons rebound in 2014?
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a four-win season and are featured on this year's Hard Knocks. Will the Falcons bounce back in 2014?
The Falcons had their struggles last season as their 4-12 record shows, but they have definitely made improvements this offseason. Injuries plagued the offense as Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Steven Jackson all missed some time last season. Quarterback Matt Ryan also had his hands full without those guys in the lineup.
This season should start off on the right foot for the Falcons with Jones, White, and Jackson (presumably) healthy. The Falcons also improved their offensive line as Ryan took a whopping 44 sacks in 2013. The addition of offensive line coach Mike Tice bodes well for the team, as does No. 6 overall pick Jake Matthews. Tight end Tony Gonzalez (retirement) will be missed, but the Falcons will still be improved on the offensive side of the ball.
The Falcons also improved their defense during the offseason. The biggest additions defensively were Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai, along with second round selection Ra'Shede Hageman. Hageman probably won't be a starter at the beginning of the season, but he has tremendous upside. This isn't to say Atlanta doesn't have holes in their defense, but these guys should provide noticeable improvement.
The Falcons won't have high expectations this season, which could play into their hand as they may sneak up on some teams. Atlanta does have a tough schedule as they play the Saints twice, along with the Packers and Cardinals. They also have to take on the Bengals and the Ravens on the road. I expect the Falcons to pull out a 9-7 season with a chance for a 10-6 record. Take the over 8.5 on season wins.