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ATLANTA FALCONS PREVIEW: Keepin’ Up with the Jones

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NFC South Preview

 August 28th, 2016

Offensive Nuggets

The Falcons offense will be something to be reckoned with this season, so big things should be expected. Julio Jones who now has a dependable number #2 WR is primed for another big season.  The running game with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is deep and healthy and Matt Ryan should be throwing the ball all over the field with plenty of pass catchers to feed the ball too.  This team is above average on both sides of the ball, and should be considered a legit dark horse in the South.

Defensive Nuggets

The defense still may be 1-2 years behind the offense, but with Dan Quinn calling the shots, progress should be measured differently and expectations should be a little higher.  The Falcons have several new comers on defense via free agency and appear set to start first round draft pick Keanu Neal from Florida at safety.  The Falcons signed six other FAs all of who should get significant playing time and most of whom will start.  It’s tough to expect this unit to gel right away, but there’s plenty of reason to remain optimistic.

Don’t Forget

Mohammed Sanu is a worthy number two.  This offense will function so much more efficiently with a dependable pass catcher for Matt Ryan to throw it to.  Sanu is great everywhere on the field as is Jones, and it will be almost impossible to double up on Jones without getting burned by Sanu.  This should really open things up for Jones, who could in turn out the season he was expected to have in 2015.

X-Factor

Alex Mack will turn out not only to be one of the best offensive line signings in the off season, but one of the best FA signings by any team of any player.  Mack was highly sought after by several teams, and opted to play in Atlanta, which will have a ripple effect on the line that impacts the running game and the time Matt Ryan has in the pocket as well. Fingers crossed for impeccable health.

Fantasy Fruit

Devonta Freeman started out of the gates quickly, but also had some bouts with inconsistency.  This is concerning, but there was enough there to justify a first round selection.  If you go with him, there still may be some inconsistencies, so you’ve been warned.  Hit click – and don’t look back.

Verdict

Trips to Oakland, Denver and Seattle, combined with visits from Green Bay and Arizona as well two matchups versus Carolina equals a very tough schedule for the Falcons.  Also factoring in Kansas City pays them a visit the Falcons will be tested early an often.  It really depends on the defense and how quickly they can gel.  As long as Matt Ryan is upright this team will score like a playoff team, but they can ill afford many shootouts.  The season won’t be a disaster, but it won’t be elite either.  They have the talent to matchup against every team they play, but it will be a tall order for the defense to respond.  9-7 with an outside shot at a Wild card is realistic.

The Atlanta Falcons are a -3.0 point home favorite vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1. Get all of your NFL Week 1 lines at the Phoenix Sports Ticket.

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