Matt Curran previews the Falcons’ upcoming NFL season by taking a look at their current roster and shares his best bets to consider.
If you have bet the Falcons the past few years, you know how frustrating this team is from a gambling perspective. Last year the Falcons started off horrible, but then finished on a hot streak, that saved the head coaches job. What will the Falcons do this year?
You could argue Matt Ryan is currently the best QB in the NFC South. Brees and Brady are past their prime, and Bridgewater is trying to prove he is a starting QB in the NFL. Matt Ryan is a former MVP still in his prime. Ryan also has his OC Dirk Koetter back, which will help stabilize this offense, which helps more with this chaotic off-season.
The big name offseason free agent for the Falcons will be the leader in the running back room, in Todd Gurley. If Gurley regains his form from his prime Rams years, he will make the Falcons the best offense in this division, which is LOADED. The problem is though is all injuries to Todd Gurley over the years, have made him just an average back. Maybe he finds his form, but odds are the Falcons added a guy with a big name with less production then he ever has had before. Gurley’s over under for total rushing yards is 825.5 yards and I love the under for the 2020 season.
The Falcons have one of the true number 1’s in Julio Jones; they also have a great number 2 in Calvin Ridley. The problem the last few years the problem has been the TD production for Julio. Last year Julio Jones had six TDS, which is ok, but not ok for one of if not the best wide receiver in the game. For the Falcons to be successful Julio needs to have at least nine in TDs this year. The O/U for Julio this year is seven TDs, and I love the over for Julio this year.
Austin Hooper has left via free agency and the Falcons brought in Hayden Hurst to replace him. Hooper has the better numbers but the Falcons are hoping Hurst has not peaked and he will grow and become a number one tight end. It will be interesting to see how well Matt Ryan and Hurst can mesh together. I believe the connections will not be there to start the year, but could be really clicking down the stretch.
The offensive line is easily the weakest part of the offense for the Falcons. They struggled last year with two rookies on the line, and really hurt the run game for the Falcons. The Falcons added a rookie lineman for the 2020 season, but still this O-line is as shaky as it can get. The highest level this line can be is an average offensive line, and at worst it is the worst offensive line. I expect this offensive line to end in the bottom third of the league rankings in 2020.
The big prize defensive free agent Dante Fowler Jr., is there to help the very weak pass rush of the Falcons from last year. They also hope Takkarist McKinley can add some pressure, and give them a good pass rush. The problem is this division has two QBS with quick releases, with Brady and Brees. For this team to win the division they need to sack the QB (Like every team in the NFL.)
Deion Jones is the key for the Falcons linebackers. Falcons head coach and staff believes Deion Jones will become an elite linebacker this year. Jones needs to take a step up, and help stabilize a defensive that was inconsistent at best in 2019.
The biggest piece for the Falcons defense is getting back their star defensive player Keanu Neal. After missing last year with an Achilles’ tear, the Falcons defensive really fell apart. We will see how Neal looks after a tough injury. The Falcons also used their first round pick on Clemson star A.J. Terrell. This secondary has a very high upside, and will need to be the anchor so the front seven can thrive.
The Falcons are going with Younghoe Koo this year with Matt Bryant gone. Koo seems to have a chance to be above average kicker, and kicking in a dome never hurts. Brandon Powell will be the main returner for the Falcons, and certainly can run one back. This Special Teams unit will not win you many games but also will not be costing them any games for the upcoming season.
What to Bet
I do not believe in the Falcons offensive line, which struggled last year. Gurley’s knee will just not keep up for a full season. Out of all 3 of these player props bet I am most confident in the Gurley under. My Bet is Under 825.5 yards.
Julio Jones is just too good not to be a TD machine. I know that Jones is have struggled scoring touchdowns, (He has been a very frustrating fantasy player) but I think there will be a more emphasis on getting Julio the ball in the end zone. Last year he only scored 6 TDs so I believe he has a better year and will be close to 10 TDs, and will lead the team in TDs. My Bet is Over 7.
It feels like a decade ago when Matt Ryan had his MVP season. Last year he fought through some injuries, but at the end of the year he came on real strong. Matt Ryan’s play kept Quinn as head coach in 2019 and they are all hoping he finds that MVP form again. I however do not believe in Matt Ryan. I think he is an above average QB with one great year. At 27.5 TDs passes there are three other QBs at the number and I would take the other on all three of those QBs before Matt Ryan. The only reason Ryan gets close to 27.5 is Julio Jones. My Bet is Matt Ryan Under 27.5
Vegas always knows don’t they? Before looking at the win total I like to look at the schedule and predict how many wins a team will have in a season. I looked at the Falcons schedule and say the falcons are a 7 or 8 win team. I then look at the Over Under for the Falcons win total, and the odds maker had it right in the middle 7.5. If the Falcons were in the NFC East they could win 10 games, but they are not and the NFC South is brutal. I think the Falcons will go 0-2 against the Saints, 0-2 against the Bucs, and go 1-1 with the Panthers. Going 1-5 in the division makes it real tough so I would avoid the Falcons to win the division at +700, and makes me want to take the under of 7.5 wins