Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith at 2023 Mini Camp. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons News

CBS Projects Falcons ‘Most Likely’ to go From Worst to First

Although the Atlanta Falcons finished a respectable 7-10 last season, they technically finished in last place of the NFC South.

But that finish will give them the opportunity to go from last to first place in a single year.

Of the last-placed 2022 teams, Atlanta is the most likely to win this fall, according to CBS Sports’ John Breech.

“The Falcons roster was good enough to compete for a division title last year and they only got better this offseason, which makes them feel like a dark horse to take the division crown in 2022,” Breech wrote. “Offensively, the Falcons are absolutely loaded with players like Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson. If Atlanta can get just average play from both Desmond Ridder and the team’s defense, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to compete for the division title. 

“The reason the Falcons only need average play from those two spots is because they’re in the one NFC division where average might be good enough to win it.”

The Falcons have gone worst to first before in the NFC South. In 2003, they finished in last place at 5-11. The following season, though, quarterback Michael Vick returned from injury and led the team to a 11-5 mark. With that record, the Falcons won the NFC South and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

Since its creation in 2002, the NFC South has been one of the more popular divisions at seeing a team go from last to first.

Every team in the division has gone from worst to first at least once in the NFC South. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have accomplished the feat twice.

The Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers have also gone from first to last in the span of one season. Tampa Bay will be trying to avoid that while replacing quarterback Tom Brady this fall.

The Washington Commanders were the only 2022 last-place team with a better record than the Falcons. But Breech ranked the Commanders the second-least likely team to go from worst to first this year.

The New York Jets was the next closest team to Atlanta with the best odds of going from last to first. The Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears had the next best odds to round out the top four last-placed teams.