The Atlanta Falcons have started the season with a bang on offense.
Through four weeks, the team has scored 152 points and piled up 1,915 yards, both of which lead the NFL. While the first three games were admittedly against weaker defenses, Atlanta just finished thrashing the Carolina Panthers to the tune of 593 yards and 48 points. Carolina was 3rd in the league in total yardage allowed through three weeks before facing the Falcons.
This all comes after a disappointing finish to the 2015 season in which there were plenty of questions about whether Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan were compatible. The rebound has been a big one, as Matt Ryan looks much more comfortable and Shanahan has allowed Ryan more freedom to run the offense.
The explosive offensive start has been fun to watch and has produced some record-setting performances, but just how good could this offense be if they keep it up for 16 games? As it turns out, historically good.
With Atlanta scoring 152 points over four games (one of the highest scoring starts in NFL history and an Atlanta Falcons record), the team is averaging an amazing 38 points per game. Projected over a 16-game season, that leads to an unbelievable 608 points. That would shatter the previous record of 589 points set by the 2007 New England Patriots.
But the history wouldn’t just stop there. With Atlanta gaining a ridiculous 1,915 yards over four games, they are averaging 478.8 yards per game, a full 82 yards better than the next closest team. If that pace were to continue, they would amass 7,660.8 yards over the course of the season. That would blow away the previous yardage record (7,075, by St. Louis in 2000) by nearly 600 yards.
The catalysts for this offensive explosion have so far been QB Matt Ryan, who is playing at an MVP level, and WR Julio Jones, who is the GOAT. What about their prospects over a 16-game season? Well, it appears they’d also be joining the record books.
Matt Ryan has amassed 1,417 passing yards (354.2 per game) to go along with 11 TDs and only two INTs. Over a 16-game season, that would amount to an insane 5,667 passing yards, 44 TDs, and only 8 INTs. That would surpass the record for most passing yards in a season that is currently held by Peyton Manning (2013), who had 5,477 passing yards.
Julio Jones, even with a dud performance in Week 3, is leading the NFL with 488 receiving yards (122 per game) with a crazy 22.2 yards per catch average. If you project that over a 16-game season, that’s 1,952 receiving yards, which would beat the previous record of 1,848 (set by Jerry Rice in 1995) by almost 100 yards.
Devonta Freeman is also on pace for a great season, though not quite a historic one. Through four games, Freeman has 55 carries for 322 yards (5.9 yards per carry) along with 11 receptions for 82 yards (7.5 yards per reception). Over a full season, that projects out to 220 carries for 1,288 yards to go along with 44 receptions for 328 yards. That works out to an excellent 1,616-yard season for the agile RB.
Now, being completely honest, it’s unlikely that any team would keep up this pace for sixteen games. But thus far, the Falcons have looked like the best offense in the league—and it hasn’t been close.
Atlanta now faces its toughest test of the season in back-to-back road games against two of the NFL’s elite defenses in Denver and Seattle. If the team comes out of those games and is still on pace to break those records...well, get your Super Bowl tickets now, folks.
What do you think about the Falcons’ surprising start to the season on offense? Is there any chance they could actually break those all-time offensive records?