Will the Falcons make the playoffs?

Atlanta Falcons 2014 NFL playoff odds Matt Ryan 2015 Super Bowl

LAS VEGAS, LV (The Spread) – After winning just four games in 2013, will the Atlanta Falcons rebound in 2014 to make the playoffs?

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According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Falcons’ odds to make the playoffs are currently 9/4, while the odds against them making the postseason are 20/57. They also have an over/under of 8.5 for number of wins they’ll have in the 2014 regular season and their 2015 Super Bowl odds are sitting at 40/1.

The Falcons spent most of their offseason trying to get more physical. They signed guard Jon Asamoah, defensive end Tyson Jackson and nose tackle Paul Soliai in free agency and selected offensive tackle Jake Matthews and defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman in the 2014 NFL Draft. Unfortunately the team already lost one of its key defensive players in linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who suffered a season-ending injury while training this past spring.

The biggest factor in whether or not Atlanta will rebound from its horrendous 2013 season is whether or not Julio Jones will stay healthy. His performance in the 2012 season, coupled with Matt Ryan’s outstanding season, was one of the main reasons why the Falcons went to the NFC title game that year. But once he suffered a season-ending injury early in the ’13 campaign, the passing game sunk and Ryan was battered by a brutal offensive line.

The Falcons also have to get more out of ’13 free agent pickup Steven Jackson, who was banged up for most of last season as well. The team did draft Florida State running back Devonta Freeman in the fourth round this year, but Jackson figures to be the starter. The O-line was brutal the past two years when it came to opening up holes for the running game, but Asamoah and Matthews should help in that area.

In my eyes, the Saints are team to beat in the NFC South. They have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL and their offense doesn’t figure to slow down. And while I expect Atlanta to rebound from its 4-12 performance a year ago, this is more of a .500 team than people think. Without a pass rush, the defense will be average at best and put even more pressure on Ryan, Jones and a Tony Gonzalez-less offense to win in shootouts most weeks.

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