This morning, we re-visited some of our 2017 season projections for the Atlanta Falcons. Mine is exactly the same, but the wins and losses I’m predicting have shifted a bit as I’ve seen this team and most of their opponents in action. Nothing has changed my fundamental belief that this is a playoff team with a lot of success in its immediate future, however.
Below, you’ll find my predictions for each game and a brief explainer for each.
Week 6: vs. Miami Dolphins: Win
This is one of the few slam dunks left. The Dolphins looked brutally bad against the Saints in London, and while they have obvious talent dotting the roster, they haven’t been able to put it together into a team that boasts a quality offense or defense. Maybe they’ll turn things around quickly, but a rested Falcons team hosting a Jay Cutler-led Dolphins squad in Mercedes-Benz Stadium needs to win this one.
Week 7: @New England Patriots: Loss
I hate projecting a loss here, but New England’s got 10 days of rest until their next game, they’ll be at home
Week 8: vs. New York Jets: Win
The Jets look better than expected, but come on.
Week 9: @Carolina Panthers: Loss
This feels like one of those games that could go sideways on Atlanta. Carolina’s defense is still pretty great, and while their offense has been an up-and-down mess to this point, a player like Christian McCaffrey is fast and dangerous enough in open space to give them the same kind of problems Tarik Cohen did in Week 1. I’d love to see the Falcons clear out the NFC South and go 6-0, but I don’t think it happens this year.
Week 10: vs. Dallas Cowboys: Win
I had this one penciled in as a potential loss, but I’m just not as impressed by this Cowboys squad as I thought I’d be. Dak Prescott is still good, Ezekiel Elliott is still a problem, and Dez Bryant can be hard to contain, but the line hasn’t played up to its standards and this is still not a good defense. That plus a home game earns the Falcons a (likely narrow) win.
Week 11: @Seattle Seahawks: Win
Same situation here. Road games in Seattle are tough, to say the least, but this Seahawks team has arguably the worst offensive line in football and needs to win with Russell Wilson and the defense at this point. The Falcons dominated the Seahawks in last year’s playoffs, almost beat them on the road, and are talented enough to pull off a close win here.
Week 12: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Win
I can’t figure this Tampa Bay team out, really. Their defense held the Patriots offense in check and got the pass rush going, and on paper their offense should be fearsome. At home and with at least a slight edge in talent, this should be a Falcons win, especially if Tampa Bay’s curse continues unabated at kicker.
Week 13: vs. Minnesota Vikings: Loss
I legitimately fear a healthy Vikings team. There’s no telling whether Sam Bradford is going to be alive and well for this one, but if he is, their lethal defense, solid ground game and dynamic receivers are a problem, even in the hopefully cozy confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A clean sweep of the NFC North would be nice, but assuming good health, Minnesota’s good enough to take this one to the wire and pull off the win.
Week 14: vs. New Orleans Saints: Win
I know they’ve shown life, but I don’t believe in this Saints team at all. Their defense isn’t good enough to hold a quality offense in check, and their offense is dangerous but not necessarily a world beater, especially if they happen to be playing a team that can bully their defense, like say the Falcons. I expect a big win here.
Week 15: @Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Loss
Again, this is a tricky Bucs team to figure out, one that plays lousy football at times but clearly has a ton of talent. I think the Falcons will fall prey to the dread road divisional loss here, assuming Tampa has their crap somewhat figured out by this point.
Week 16: @ New Orleans Saints: Win
New Orleans isn’t a fun place to play on the road, but again, I’m not a big believer in this Saints team. This will be the one NFC South road the Falcons handle in 2017.
Week 17: vs. Carolina Panthers: Win
The Panthers may well be healthier and have things figured out at this point, but I believe the Falcons can handle them at home, and frankly I’m still figuring they’ll be powerfully motivated by the dumb late season losses they’ve suffered to this Carolina team in recent years. Deion Jones pick six, perhaps?
I’m sure there will be some disagreement in terms of which wins and losses I’ve predicted here, but you probably agree the total is semi-reasonable. The upshot is that teams can and will be able to beat the Falcons this year, but that they remain one of the better teams in the NFL, and a team that will require elite defenses, stellar offenses, or divisional wonkiness to conquer. I would be genuinely surprised if they didn’t finish with at least 10 wins.
How about you?