The Atlanta Falcons had a modest 4.5-win over/under prediction heading into the 2022 season. Head coach Arthur Smith and his Falcons outperformed that number with seven wins while battling $80 million in dead cap money.
With a successful free agent period, draft, and relatively easy schedule, the Falcons win-total prediction for 2023 has ballooned to 8.5. ESPN’s Tyler Fulgham likes the over for Atlanta.
“The Falcons may have the most complete roster in the NFC South — even with Desmond Ridder at QB,” writes Fulgham on ESPN. “I know he’s not proven yet, but I trust Arthur Smith to put him in good spots to succeed. He has the weapons surrounding him and the type of scheme that will make it as easy as possible for him to manage the offense. The defense drastically improved its talent, depth and credibility by bringing in Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Jessie Bates III, Jeff Okudah, and Mike Hughes.”
“We see — almost every season in the NFL — one team go from last to first place in a division, and I think the Falcons are the most likely team to do that in 2023. I think Atlanta is an NFC Playoff team in 2023.”
ESPN Betting lists the Falcons as +115 to make the playoffs this year. Meaning a $100 bet wins $115. So the odds are a little less than 50/50 for the Falcons to make the playoffs.
That same article lists the Falcons key acquisitions and key departures. Looking at both lists, it’s hard not to be optimistic about Atlanta’s playoff chances.
Atlanta took arguably the most exciting player in the draft in running back Bijan Robinson while fortifying a porous defense with the players listed above.
The key departures boil down to nickel back Isaiah Oliver (49ers), guard Eli Wilkinson (Cardinals), and leading tackler Rashaan Evans.
If the Falcons wanted to bring back Evans, he’s still a free agent. He doesn’t appear to be a priority in Atlanta or the rest of the NFL.
ESPN joined NFL.com in predicting the Falcons would make the playoffs in 2023. After two seasons of no expectations, the pressure will ramp up on the Falcons to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2017.
It’s pressure welcomed by a team hungry for the playoffs.