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Atlanta Falcons Betting Predictions – A Mere Playoff Berth Isn't Enough In The NFC South

Posted by Tony Bryant on 6/12/2012 4:52:08 PM

Head Coach: Mike Smith
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Miller
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Nolan
Owner: Arthur Blank
Stadium: Georgia Dome
Capacity: 71,228
Super Bowl Wins: None

Offense

The Falcons finished 10th in the NFL last season with 6,026 yards. Their offense was certainly more of a strength than a weakness. It powered the team to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. Quarterback Matt Ryan affirmed his credentials as one of the better signal callers in the league. Roddy White proved to be a quality playmaking receiver despite occasional bouts with the dropsies. Where the Falcons got into trouble on offense was in the running game. Atlanta encountered several fourth-and-short situations in 2011, and almost all of them turned into disasters. A fourth-and-inches failure in their own territory killed the Falcons against division rival New Orleans. In the NFC wild card round against the New York Giants, the Falcons failed on multiple fourth-and-short situations, exposing the lack of quality in their rushing attack. If this team can run the ball better – it picked offensive linemen with its first two selections in the 2012 NFL Draft – it will become a markedly better team this season in the eyes of anyone who consults betting sites for the latest in pro football expertise.

Grade: B+

Defense

Atlanta's defense finished 12th in the NFL last season, allowing 5,338 yards. Sports betting oddsmakers would calmly point out that the team's offense, not its defense, fell flat on its face in the NFC wild card loss to the New York Giants. Atlanta's defense is not quite imposing – this team still doesn't have the kind of pass rush that can really put elite offenses on their heels – but the Falcons did a generally solid job of containing their opponents. Coach Mike Smith needs to make this team much more intimidating and productive in third-and-long situations.

Grade: B

Special Teams

The Falcons produced 41.9 net yards per punt, a solid differential that will keep special teams coaches happy. Atlanta walked away with 82.1 percent of field goals made, and three of the team's misses were beyond 50 yards. That's a noticeably impressive level of effectiveness. There really wasn't much to complain about in this particular phase of the game.

Grade: B+

Prediction

The Falcons were the fifth seed in the NFC last season, and they're not appreciable worse off in the larger workings of the NFC as 2012 approaches. This year, as you know, the New Orleans Saints will be playing without head coach Sean Payton due to the "bountygate" scandal. If the Falcons can't win the NFC West this year, they probably won't win it in 2013 or 2014. However, whether this team wins its division or not, the main point of focus is to win the first playoff game in the Smith-Ryan era. The head coach and the quarterback want to make that breakthrough this season. The Falcons will go 11-5 and lose in the divisional round of the playoffs. Click here for ample information on the latest NFL sportsbook odds.

2012 Schedule

Week 1 – at Kansas City (1:00 PM ET)
Week 2 – vs. Denver (Monday, 8:30 PM ET)
Week 3 – at San Diego (4:05 PM ET)
Week 4 – vs. Carolina (1:00 PM ET)
Week 5 – at Washington (1:00 PM ET)
Week 6 – vs. Oakland (1:00 PM ET)
Week 8 – at Philadelphia (1:00 PM ET)
Week 9 – vs. Dallas (8:20 PM ET)
Week 10 – at New Orleans (1:00 PM ET)
Week 11 – vs. Arizona (1:00 PM ET)
Week 12 – at Tampa Bay (1:00 PM ET)
Week 13 – vs. New Orleans (Thursday, 8:20 PM ET)
Week 14 – at Carolina (1:00 PM ET)
Week 15 – vs. New York Giants (1:00 PM ET)
Week 16 – at Detroit (Saturday, 8:30 PM ET)
Week 17 – vs. Tampa Bay (1:00 PM ET)


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