The Falcons are hoping to do something they haven’t done since 2017: Post a winning season and make the playoffs. Optimism for that outcome exists in Flowery Branch and in this fanbase, but it also exists in pockets among national analysts like NFL.com’s Adam Schein.
Writing up five teams with long droughts, Schein decides three of them are very strong bets to make the postseason, with the Jets, Lions, and Falcons on that list. Schein singles out Arthur Smith for praise, calling him a “detail-obsessed workaholic” capable of lifting this offense further, and ends with the kind of brief prediction that is music to all of our ears.
I think the Falcons can win 10 games this year and make the playoffs via the wild card.
This comes about a month after Schein named Atlanta the NFL’s best bandwagon to jump on, citing the strength of the additions and the coaching staff in that writeup. He is part of a small but significant chorus of experts and analysts who seem genuinely excited about the Falcons, a team with five straight losing seasons prior to this who had largely been relegated to an afterthought.
I share this not because Schein is a prophet—though it would be nice if he was—but because it’s another illustration that the strength of this team’s offseason is getting notice. Barring injury or a complete Desmond Ridder implosion, it seems impossible that the offense will be less than good. The defensive additions from Jessie Bates to David Onyemata are going to lift this defense from consistently mediocre to...well, we don’t know yet, but better than that. Special teams remains a true strength, and the NFC South has the look of one of the weaker divisions in football in 2023. You can sigh about the same old Falcons and the many ways this team has elected to let us down in recent years, but the conclusion that they’re a better team with a real opportunity is a hard conclusion to escape.
You can read the writeup from Schein here, if you’re interested in the full Falcons capsule and what he has to say about the Panthers (feisty, but not likely to be playoff material). As we get closer to training camp, the Falcons remain one of the NFL’s more intriguing teams this year, and at the very least it’s nice to see how many people are taking notice of that.