While April is almost certainly too early to make predictions regarding the Falcons' 2015 record based on their schedule for the coming season, that didn't stop us from polling our writers for predictions.
The Panthers should be better, the Bucs will definitely win more than two games under Lovie Smith and the Saints won't be quite as terrible as everyone thinks. Quinn still squeezes more out of this roster than Smith/Nolan ever did last year.
This is an improved football team with a reasonable schedule, there are some tough opponents and this team has some major question marks that keep me from being more optimistic.
The "league's easiest schedule" is somewhat of a lie since the whole division was sub-.500 last year, and though 2014's 6-10 record was also a lie, the 2015 Falcons will take an improved 8-8 team - plus a weaker schedule - into the playoffs once again.
Matt Ryan and his receiving corps should be in typical form, and an offensive line that started to find themselves last season will continue to improve with another year together. Head Coach Dan Quinn brings with him a new defensive scheme, and should bring home some quality talent with high picks in each round. With all of that in addition to the easiest schedule out of all 32 teams, the Falcons should have a solid rebound year barring any major injuries.
Take away two clock management gaffes, and last year's team would have probably finished 8-8. Now, the roster is better, the coaching staff is almost certainly better and the schedule is easier -- at least on paper. Barring some disastrous injuries, this team should be able to win more games than it loses.
It's hard not to be optimistic about the Falcons' supremely favorable schedule. If a new regime was able to bring the Falcons to relevance in 2008 following a disastrous 2007 season, I see virtually no reason why the same can't happen in 2015 with a new head coach and - on paper, at least - the league's easiest schedule.
Has anyone looked at this schedule? Mike Smith could put up 10 wins against this schedule. I figured this team would be good for 9 or 10 wins, then at first pass had them nearly undefeated. I literally had to go back and switch some games to losses. With a run game and any semblance of a defense should get this team into the playoffs without much effort.
I was mildly surprised when I got through the schedule and realized that I had penciled in the Falcons for 11 wins, but barring anything catastrophic, I think this result is attainable. If the Falcons improve the pass rush through the draft like we expect them to, run the ball even remotely effectively, and use players in ways that actually make sense, this season should bring significant improvement for Atlanta in the wins column.
If you were to ask me before the schedule what I thought the record would be, I would have told you 8-8 or maybe 9-7. While I think those are still "reasonable" guesses, my 11-5 assessment seems within reach. Granted, many things need to happen - the team stays relatively healthy, drafted players contribute at a good level - but there are good reasons to believe this team can have a nice bounceback season.
Last year I picked the team to go 8-8. They basically a .500 team, so I wasn't far off. Assuming they can stay healthy, add some offensive weapons in the draft and bring in more players to fit to Quinn's scheme on defense, I think the Falcons can have a winning season, assuming they stay healthy. The schedule is obviously favorable, and I'm excited to see what Shanahan can do with Ryan, Jones, White and Freeman.
|Week 1 vs. Eagles||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
Week 2 at Giants
|Week 3 at Cowboys||Loss||Loss||Loss||Win||Win||Loss||Win||Loss||Loss||Loss|
|Week 4 vs. Texans||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Loss||Win||Win||Loss||Win||Win|
|Week 5 vs. Washington||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
|Week 6 at Saints||Win||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss|
|Week 7 at Titans||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
|Week 8 vs. Buccaneers||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
|Week 9 at 49ers||Win||Loss||Win||Win||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
|Week 11 vs. Colts||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Win||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss|
|Week 12 vs. Vikings||Win||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
|Week 13 at Buccaneers||Win||Win||Win||Loss||Win||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Loss|
|Week 14 at Panthers||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss||Loss|
|Week 15 at Jaguars||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
|Week 16 vs. Panthers||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Loss||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|
|Week 17 vs. Saints||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win||Win|