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Revising Falcons season predictions after a 4-1 start

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Our writers re-consider their season predictions, with the arrow pointing up nearly unanimously.

Atlanta Falcons v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: This is meant to reflect our expectations for 2016 based on the first five games of the season. If you’d like to make fun of us at the end of the year, you can still point to our original predictions, you mean person.

Dave Choate

Previous prediction: 8-8

New prediction: 10-6

A year ago, I steadfastly refused to move on my 9-7 prediction even after the Falcons started 5-0. This year, though, I’ll move on my original prediction after the same number of games, even though Atlanta’s record is worse. Why?

Because this is real. Because this defense is athletic and aggressive and actually has the personnel to play that way, even if there will be hiccups. Because this offense is one of the NFL’s best, and they proved it even against arguably the NFL’s best defense. Because this is a better team than a year ago, and the NFC South looks like it’s a shaky division outside of Atlanta. Because I want to believe in a good Falcons team again, and so I will. Things could go awry, but I have a lot more faith this year that they will not.

Caleb Rutherford

Previous prediction: 8-8 (I think)

New prediction: 10-6

The 5-0 start last year fooled us all, despite all the red flags imaginable. This time, the red flags are gone, and the team looks like it can compete on any given week, even on the road. In our remaining 11 games, I think we can wrangle 6 wins out of them, and that might be a conservatively low estimate. 10-6 will almost certainly give us a wild card spot if not the division crown.

I know Denver was without several key players, but I couldn’t help but feel like we forced them to play our game for all four quarters. A weakened Denver is still a mighty foe, and beating them in their house should serve notice to the rest of the NFL. THIS Falcons team is not going to wither in the face of adversity, and that should make the rest of the season a real treat to watch.

Matt Chambers

Previous prediction: 6-10

New prediction: 11-5

I’m all in. The team we’ve been watching the last month should be competitive in every remaining game. Assuming they can keep their foot on the gas, an 11 win season shouldn’t be a problem.

DW

Previous prediction: 10-6

New prediction: 10-6

It happens every year in the NFL. Teams that looked dominant the year before fall back to earth, while new teams come out of nowhere to be major competition. This year, some teams down the line look far less impressive than they did in 2015 (*cough* Cardinals *cough*). In the light of how this Falcons team is now playing, I don’t see any team remaining that looks “unbeatable.”

However, I still think the Falcons will drop a few between now and then because this league just seems to work that way. What’s clear is that this team is far better than the 2015 version, and barring another epic collapse (which I don’t see with this unit), there’s no reason the Falcons can’t pull away and win the NFC South and get back to the playoffs.

Kevin Knight

Previous Prediction: 9-7

New Prediction: 11-5

I originally thought this team would play significantly better than last season, but only get one more win because of a very difficult schedule. Well, the most difficult stretch of the schedule is nearly over and the Falcons are 4-1. They won two games I expected them to lose (@Oakland, @Denver), so I’m increasing my prediction to account for that.

This team will lose games before the end of the season, but 11-5 should be more than enough to win the division. Atlanta has looked dominant on offense, and has now done it against two premier NFL defenses. The Falcons defense, too, has improved every week and finally played a complete game against the Broncos. When we get our two rookie LBs back into the line-up, watch out. This team could end up finishing even higher than I’ve predicted, but let’s play it safe for now.

Kendall Jackson

Previous Prediction: 6-10

New Prediction: 12-4

Why not? This team can pass, this team can run, this team can play defense in spurts and apparently sack the quarterback six times in a game. That schedule looks a lot easier now that the Falcons are playing as well as they are. Here comes Atlanta, playoffs.

Kyle McClendon

Previous Prediction: 8-8

New Prediction: 12-4

The first six weeks of the schedule were supposed to be the tough stretch in the schedule for the Falcons and I thought they would win two of the four games. They’ve won four so far and may win a fifth this Sunday, so I’m feeling great about being wrong here. When looking at the schedule after Seattle, the only games I really worry about are the games at home against Green Bay and Arizona (though the Cardinals don’t look too hot right now) and then the game up in Philadelphia against the Eagles. The game in Carolina to end the season is big as well, but hopefully won’t mean that much by the time it comes around.

I think the Falcons one of those four games and finish 12-4 (I know that seems a little pessimistic, but after last year I’m waiting to lose my mind). I’m still cautiously optimistic because I am an Atlanta sports fan and it is part of our DNA, but this team looks different than previous teams in Atlanta. I feel good about the schedule moving forward and think and improving defense only makes things better for the Falcons.

James “Money” Rael

Previous Prediction: 16-0

New Prediction: 16-0 (Yes, I know we already lost a game. I don’t care. That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it.)

While I’m glad the Falcons are finally getting some league-wide respect from their opponents, the media, etc., I’m looking forward to a game that doesn’t elicit some sort of caveat (e.g., “they were playing against the Broncos’ rookie, backup quarterback!”) Sunday’s contest against the Seattle Seahawks could represent that opportunity. In a perfect world, the Falcons seize this opportunity, quieting the critics and finishing this west coast road trip just as they envisioned it.

If my prediction doesn’t pan out, and the Falcons do eventually lose another game or two, it will be interesting to see how they rebound. That’s something the team struggled with mightily last year and a repeat performance would be incredibly disheartening.