Falcons 2016 Win Total Prediction
After winning eight games a year ago, how many victories will the Atlanta Falcons rack up in 2016?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the over/under has been set 7.5 for the number of wins the Falcons will produce this upcoming NFL season. The over carries odds of +105, while the under carries odds of -135, so oddsmakers are leaning towards Atlanta coming at least one game shy of its 2015 win total, which was 8.
A Look Back
The Falcons got off to a fantastic start under new head coach Dan Quinn, rattling off five consecutive victories to start the 2015 campaign. But a midseason slide in which they went 1-7 cost them an opportunity to secure a wild card spot in the NFC. They did rebound down the stretch, winning two of their final three games, including a 20-13 win over the Panthers at the Georgia Dome in Week 16, which was Carolina's only loss of the regular season.
A Look Ahead
The Falcons dramatically upgraded the interior of their offensive line in free agency by signing former Brown Alex Mack to a new contract. The team also invested a lot of cap space in the receiver position opposite Julio Jones by signing former Bengal Mohamed Sanu to a five-year, $32.5 million contract. But while they overpaid for Sanu, the Falcons did have one underrated signing this past offseason, inking former Dolphin Derrick Shelby to a four-year, $18 million contract. Shelby should boost a pass-rush that produced a league-low in sacks a year ago.
In the draft, the Falcons landed a safety in Keanu Neal that the team hopes will be the equivalent of Kam Chancellor in Quinn's defensive scheme. Atlanta also added more speed at linebacker thanks to the additions of LSU 'backer Deion Jones and Minnesota's De'Vondre Campbell.
2016 Win Prediction
The Falcons should at least win eight games again, so the value is in the 'over 7.5.' Matt Ryan had a career-worst year in Kyle Shanahan's first season as offensive coordinator, but he's surrounded by elite weapons in Jones and running back Devonta Freeman. Tevin Coleman should also have a bigger role and impact in the offense and even though he'll never live up to the contract he signed, Sanu should be an upgrade over the Roddy White (who was a tremendous Falcon, but injuries hampered his production the last three seasons).
The biggest question mark is on defense. Corner Desmond Trufant is a rising star and Neal brings some much-needed thump to the safety position. But 2015 first-rounder Vic Beasley and 2014 second-rounder Ra'Shede Hageman need to take significant steps in their development so the pass-rush isn't as dormant as it was a year ago. The addition of Shelby, the insertion of 2015 fifth-rounder Grady Jarrett into the starting lineup, the re-signing of Adrian Clayborn are all moves that should boost the pass-rush as well. Plus, there will be more speed on the field assuming Jones makes his way into the starting lineup.
The Panthers are the class of the NFC South and the Saints and Bucs should be better in 2016 as well. But the Falcons are talented enough to win 8 games again in Quinn's second year. They don't appear to be a strong candidate to stumble backwards this season.
2016 NFL SEASON WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: ATLANTA FALCONS OVER 7.5 (+105)