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USA Today Schedule Predictions Leave Something To Be Desired

The USA Today let loose a schedule prediction today, and it's not very optimistic.

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Devonta Freeman gives the skeptical look to the predictions.
Devonta Freeman gives the skeptical look to the predictions.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we're past the draft predictions and the free agency predictions, we find ourselves staring down the barrel of season predictions.

This is just the first of many, many predictions you'll see scattered across the internet, but I wanted to point this one out as one that has 0% chance of happening. You heard it here first, the Falcons will not be this bad.

Let's break it down team-by-team for the NFC South.

The writer has it as follows:

Panthers (11-5)

Saints (10-6)

Falcons (4-12)

Bucs (4-12)

Nate Davis, the author of the post, reasons the Panthers will be better because Cam Newton is healthy and his team faces only four playoff teams from a year ago. I can see the reason in that, however I'm not sure how much better the team actually got. I did not like their draft at all, and their lone notable free agency acquisition is 100 years old. How exactly did they improve their team following a year where they didn't go .500?

Moving on to the Saints, I'm going to use Davis's snippet for the Saints and break it down bit by bit.

They lost their final five games at Superdome in 2014 and still finished 7-9.

That is surprising for the Saints. They normally play pretty well at home, but so do we.

Don't expect that streak to continue...

This is a fair statement to make, even knowing none of the games have been played yet, but the real kicker is this last part:

....especially with a favorable schedule and, theoretically, improved run game and D.


Favorable schedule.

THEORETICALLY improved run game and D.

Shut your brain off for a moment. Which team is he talking about? Surely he couldn't be talking about the FALCONS, who have a:

  1. Favorable schedule
  2. Improved run game
  3. Improved D
and NEED I REMIND YOU who beat who out of the Falcons and Saints last year?

But okay, let's take a step back. I thought the Saints draft was solid. Their free agency was decent. I'm not sold on Spiller due to his injury concerns, though he'll definitely make them better. Brandon Browner is just gon' learn today what font Julio Jones has on the back of his jersey.

It's perfectly reasonable, if not a wee bit optimistic, to think the Saints could make a 3-game improvement from their 2014 season. They're still well coached, they still have Drew Brees, and their offseason was decent, at worst. They are still a mangled mess in terms of cap space. They had to let go of Jimmy Graham, arguably Brees's best target. There's no guarantee any of their offensive weapons will pick up his slack, and their defense is 1) going to rely on rookies 2) still coached by the same...guy and 3) without its best player (Galette).

Let's move on to our team. Our team made a 4 game - yes, 4. Bite me, people who say we went 6-10 - improvement on a truly abysmal 2013 season. We were in position to win more than 8 games with an offense that did juuuuust enough to get us the lead, though we all know how the losses ended.

Fast forward to 2015, where we're doing a half rebuild while keeping most of that offense intact. We brought in an offensive coordinator that got Schaub to throw 4,700 yards in a season. We hired a head coach that helped create (or at least maintain) a monster defense in Seattle. We had, by many accounts, a very good offseason. A solid free agency coupled with a fantastic draft means we won't be relying heavily on rookies while still mixing a nice blend of youth and veterans to make a good all-around team.

The offense alone should give us a chance to win every game. While the blocking scheme and the running backs will be different, we still have the most important cog in the whole machine. The defense's biggest problem - coaching - was fixed in the offseason. we're going to win 4 games?

The lowest Mike Smith-led Falcons - with a borderline historically bad defense, mind you - had 4 wins.

Given all this information, a coaching change, not to mention the easier schedule, won't provide any kind of improvement over a 2014 season, but rather it'll make us 2 (4) games worse?

Give me a break.