Not everyone is optimistic about the Falcons this year, but it's fair to say the overall level of optimism is much higher than it has been since the heady days of 2012.
Mark Bradley delivered another dose of optimism yesterday based on Football Outsiders' forecast for the Falcons 2015 season, which is a surprising 10-6. You can't even wring that level of optimism out of me, frankly, and FO does a lot of analyzin' to come up with their projections. They have the Saints and Falcons both at that record, though, so they're clearly not perfect.
Football Outsiders had generally been mixed on the Falcons for years, and the Falcons kept at least modestly exceeding their projected win totals until 2013, when everything FO had been saying about the team came to pass. They nailed both years, more or less, and that's why it's notable that they're projecting such an epic bounceback.
Thieving from Mark Bradley's piece, which quotes the ESPN piece:
From Schatz’s ESPN post: "(An) important element of our NFC South forecast is the fact that offense tends to be more consistent than defense from year to year. Atlanta and New Orleans were strong on offense and terrible on defense a year ago. Those defenses are more likely to improve than the offenses are to decline."
It's tough to argue this. Blogging Dirty questioned whether the schedule really will be as easy as it looks on paper, which is a fair question given how unpredictable the NFL is. But this team's offense should be as good or better than it was a year ago, when it was a couple of plays from a (still lousy) 8-8 record, and the defense should go from historically bad to maybe-not-so-historically-bad with Dan Quinn at the helm and a handful of upgrades. It's probably more optimistic than is warranted in May, but you don't have to squint that hard to see this team finish with a winning record. They just need a little injury luck, a little improvement from what they have and strong contributions from their new players.
It's anyone's guess how this one will go, but it's kind of heart-warming to see the Falcons getting a little projected love. How do you think they'll finish 2015?