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NFL Football 2013: Atlanta Falcons Preview

Posted by Stan Simmons on 8/9/2013 8:36:25 PM

When people who engage inonline bettinglook at the landscape faced by the Atlanta Falcons this season, there will be a mixture of optimism and uneasy tension. On one hand, the Falcons made some definite forward strides last season. They won a playoff game, something quarterback Matt Ryan and coach Mike Smith hadn’t previously been able to achieve. The Falcons responded to a tidal wave of adversity against the Seattle Seahawks to pull out a last-moment win in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game. The Falcons no longer have to live under this particular cloud of uncertainty; they’ve won in the postseason.

Americansport bettinganalysts will note, though, that some losses in big games can really affect a franchise in a negative way. The Falcons, ironically enough, were the victors in a conference championship game 14 years ago, a game that destroyed another NFL franchise. The Falcons came from behind to stun the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game from January of 1999. The Vikings have never really recovered from that moment. Now, the Falcons must deal with a soul-crushing experience of their own.

Atlanta stormed to a 17-0 lead in this past season’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. Like the Vikings in January of 1999, the Falcons were playing at home and seemed to have a Super Bowl ticket in hand, ready to print. However, the Falcons lost hold of their advantage as quickly as they gained it. San Francisco shut out the Falcons in the second half and won, 28-24. Atlanta has to absorb the fullness of that blow and use it as motivational fuel. However, the history of the NFL shows that such losses are often debilitating instead of being a catapult to a greater level of performance. This team’s mental toughness will be tested in ways it wasn’t last season.

The sportsbookodds for this team are going to be limited for another reason as well: Atlanta will face a motivated New Orleans Saints team that has its regular coach, Sean Payton, back in the saddle after the one-year suspension that flowed from the so-called “BountyGate” scandal. The Saints won’t be living under the reality of suspensions. They weren’t able to put their best team (or their best coaching staff) on the field last season, and they’re going to be mentally fresh for 2013. Can Atlanta stare down and fend off such an adversary? It’s going to be a tough challenge for the Falcons.

What’s going to help this team in 2013 is the addition of Steven Jackson at running back. Jackson, a star for the St. Louis Rams over the past several seasons, is a clear upgrade from Michael Turner at running back. Jackson has more home-run ability as a breakaway back. He can open up the field in ways that Turner can’t. On defense, Osi Umenyiora joined the defensive line while John Abraham left. Umenyiora struggled last season, so in many ways, these high-profile acquisitions are arriving in Atlanta from different vantage points. If Jackson can remain great and Umenyiora can rediscover excellence, the Falcons could retain their NFC South title.


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