Falcons' 2017 Win Total Prediction
Will the Falcons have a Super Bowl hangover or are they a good bet to go over their season win total over/under?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book BetDSI, the Falcons' win total for 2017 has been set at 9.5 after they won 11 games a year ago. Atlanta's odds to win the Super Bowl after blowing a 28-3 lead over New England in last year's title game are 15/1. The Falcons are also 33/20 favorites to repeat as NFC South champions again.
The Falcons were active this offseason, signing former Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe to play alongside an up-and-coming defensive line. After losing Patrick DiMarco to the Bills, Atlanta also signed former Seattle fullback Derrick Coleman to help lead the way for Devonta Freeman (who will receive a new contract soon) and Tevin Coleman. Guard Chris Chester also retired, so Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland will compete for the spot, unless the team adds a veteran (Allen Babre, perhaps) before the season.
In the draft, the Falcons added another pass-rusher to play opposite stud Vic Beasley by selecting UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley in the first round. The team traded its second-round pick, but came back in the third and nabbed LSU linebacker Duke Riley, who could start as a rookie. Sean Harlow (Oregon State, guard), Damontae Kazee (San Diego State, defensive back), Brian Hill (Wyoming, running back) and Eric Saubert (Drake, tight end) rounded out the rest of Atlanta's draft class.
Our Prediction: There will be plenty of bettors that take the under 9.5 for the Falcons predicted that the team will have a massive Super Bowl hangover. That's reasonable, although I think the demise of the Falcons based on the Super Bowl collapse has been exaggerated.
Matt Ryan and the offense isn't going to put up the same eye-popping numbers as it did a year ago when Kyle Shanahan was the play-caller. Steve Sarkisian hasn't called plays before at the NFL level, so there will be some growing pains there. That said, Ryan, Freeman, Coleman, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, rising tight end Austin Hooper and a solid offensive line won't let the unit drop off too much.
Where the improvement will be is on the defensive side, with Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Poe, Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and Keanu Neal comprise an underrated unit. Remember, until they were gassed in the fourth quarter and collapsed, that defense flustered Tom Brady for three full quarters. Assuming Dan Quinn's defense doesn't take a step backwards, the Falcons should win 10-plus games (albeit against a first-place schedule).
NFL SEASON OVER/UNDER PREDICTION: ATLANTA FALCONS OVER 9.5