There’s a fundamental disconnect between how the Falcons view themselves and how the world views the Falcons at the moment. Atlanta’s front office and head coach are talking like they believe they can contend in 2022 while still prioritizing a brighter future for the team, while those outside the building (include many fans of the team) poke holes in that by noting the state of the roster, the team’s limited cap space and the complete lack of things like “a pass rush” or “wide receivers.”
Add oddsmakers to the doubters, apparently.
NFC South futures per @betonline_ag— Ross Jackson (@RossJacksonNOLA) March 11, 2022
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3/2
New Orleans Saints 12/5
Carolina Panthers 13/4
Atlanta Falcons 19/4
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise and thus shouldn’t sting, but I’ll admit it still managed to aggravate me. The Panthers are an abysmally run team that just finished dead last in the division, have no quarterback and have a head coach on the hot seat, while the Saints just lost their longtime head coach and also have no quarterback. I’m not saying either team is entirely hopeless, however much I might like to believe that to be so, but are the Falcons really any worse right now than either of those teams?
Your answer may vary, but clearly there’s a perception that the skeletal Falcons roster and their ongoing cap challenges are going to hold them back. That’s likely to be fluid, especially with the Falcons just freeing up $12 million by restructuring Matt Ryan’s deal and once people remember that this is the only team in the division with a quality veteran quarterback under contract, and it really shouldn’t take a herculean effort to get Atlanta at least competitive in what looks like it’ll be one of the weakest divisions in football. It will take a quality couple of months of plumbing free agency on a budget and building an effective draft class, but that’s something the Falcons are hopefully up for.
You always want to look back at odds like these and grim predictions like the ones we’re bound to see for the Falcons in the months ahead and laugh at how foolish they seem. May we do so in December.