The Atlanta Falcons finished 2019 with an overall record of 7-9, while also only winning three games at home. I would say that coming into the 2020 season, the Falcons are in one of the toughest divisions in football. With Tampa Bay adding Tom Brady, it will only get tougher. So what are some things we can see this year from a dynamic falcons team? I’ll tell you.
A more dynamic offense:
Atlanta was first in pass attempts last season, at 43 per game. I think a lot of defenses could predict what the offense was going to be each play, and now adding Todd Gurley to the mix, I think this team will run the ball significantly more this season. Just two seasons ago, Todd Gurley finished with 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. Do I think we will see those type of numbers? No. But I do think he will be an upgrade at the running back spot this year for Atlanta.
Last year was a “down year” for Todd, as he had 857 yards and 12 touchdowns. That’s a season that many running backs would love to have, but a down year for Gurley. I think Todd Gurley gets back to that 1000 yard rushing mark this year while also adding double digit touchdowns. If there is any team to get a good start against, Seattle may be that team here in week one.
A passing game that may be more explosive
The falcons did lose Austin Hooper to the Browns this past season, but they did make it an effort to get another great tight end. Atlanta traded a second-round pick for tight end Hayden Hurst, who is already receiving high praise during camp. Quarterback Matt Ryan said he “has Tony Gonzales athleticism”. I think we can see Hayden getting some targets week in and week out with most of the attention being on Julio Jones.
Calvin Ridley is another player I will be watching all season. Ridley will be entering his 3rd season this year, which is sometimes when we see players have breakout seasons. Ridley finished the last two season with 800 plus yards, while also having seven and ten touchdowns. I think he will have a 1000 yard season. The Falcons finished last season at nearly 300 passing yards per game, ranking third in that category.
A better passing defense
It’s easy to say that the one weakness of the Falcons last year was their passing defense. Atlanta finished the 2019 season with a 96.9 passer defense rating, ranking them 24th in the NFL. Losing Desmond Trufant just adds fuel to the fire. But, Atlanta made their focus of the draft on their secondary, drafting AJ Terrell. Keanu Neal also only played 3 games last year, and with him healthy I think will be an upgrade over what was there last season. I don’t think this passing defense will be great, but I do think it will be better than 24th in the NFL.
The Falcons will begin better this year than last, when they started the first seven games without a win. I think Atlanta gets the week one win over Seattle and finishes the season at 9-7. That should be good enough to make the final wildcard playoff spot.
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