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Will Atlanta’s turnover luck turn over in 2018?

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The Falcons had a negative turnover differential in 2017, and that needs to change.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There were so many reasons the 2016 season was such a magical one, and that the 2017 one fell far short of that despite the team making the playoffs and winning a game. One of the many reasons was that the Falcons did not do nearly as good of a job

Atlanta was one of just five teams to snag single digit interceptions in 2017, and one of 19 to pick up single digit fumbles. They finished the year with a -2 turnover differential, largely on the back of their inability to consistently take the football away and some insanely unlucky interceptions for Matt Ryan. Considering this team was involved in a lot of close games, that stands out as a significant reason they finished with the record they did in 2017, with some of those interceptions (and missed opportunities for the defense) legitimately costing them wins.

So in 2018, that needs to change. The Falcons were ninth in total giveaways and 18th in interceptions in 2018, and the most obvious area for improvement will be Ryan cutting down his interception total, with a little help from his receivers. The real improvement in the ratio is more likely to come from the defensive side, however, as the simply failed to come down with key interceptions on a repeated basis, most notably when Keanu Neal accidentally kneed the ball to an Eagles receiver in the playoffs.

Deion Jones actually led the team with three, with Desmond Trufant clocking at #2 with two interceptions. Considering that the Falcons had other opportunities to come down with those balls, and considering their defensive improvement, turnovers are one of the big missing pieces.

For what it’s worth, I think the team will have a positive ratio in 2017. You can’t script up worse turnover luck than the Falcons had last year, as I noted above, and simply getting a little bit more lucky should drive that ratio back up. But the team will need to be more aggressive and more capable when it comes to taking the ball away from opposing teams if they want to arrive as an elite defense in 2018.