NFC South Preview – Part 4 – Atlanta Falcons

NFC South Preview – Part 4 – Atlanta Falcons
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‘How do you think you will handle the dreaded Super Bowl Hangover?’ is a question which the Falcons will be delighted they won’t have to face all this season as they begin their quest for their first Vince Lombardi Trophy in a matter of hours against the reigning Super Bowl champions.

It could easily have been the Falcons opening the 2018 NFL Season at home if it wasn’t for some bizarre offensive play-calling by the Falcons at the at the end of the NFC Divisional match-up between the two sides earlier this year. The Eagles were up by five when the Falcons had the chance to make a game winning drive to progress to the NFC Championship game against the Vikings. Facing a 1st and goal on the Philly eight yard line, the Falcons were in prime position to extend their season and try and avenge their previous years heartbreak in SuperBowl LI (assuming that they would have won the NFC Championship game). Fast forward four plays, including a ridiculous shovel screen pass on 2nd down and the Falcons were on the first flight out of the City of Brotherly Love with their tails firmly between their legs as the Eagles held out on their way to Super Bowl success.

So what chance do the Falcons have this season of finally claiming the Lombardi Trophy? As expected with a team in their Super Bowl window, there wasn’t a lot of key additions to the Falcons roster during the off season but, crucially, Atlanta managed to get new deals done for their following star men; Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Jake Matthews during the off-season.

In the 2018 Draft, the Falcons chose Wide Receiver, Calvin Ridley, who appears to be a direct replacement for the departed Taylor Gabriel. 2nd Round Draft pick was Isaiah Oliver at Cornerback which gives the Falcons an impressive stable of Defensive Backs including Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. Defensive Tackle, Deadrin Senat in the 3rd round. With the Defensive Line losing two regular starters in the off season (Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe both moved on to pastures new), it was no surprise to see the Falcons pick up a Defensive Tackle in the first three rounds of the Draft. Another new addition at Defensive Tackle is ex-Cowboy and former Redskin Terrell McClain as both new DT’s will be competing for the starting position next to Grady Jarrett. With Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley at Defensive End, the Falcons certainly have speed on the Defensive Line.

As well as a good D-Line, Atlanta, without question, have one of the best Offensive Lines in the NFL and definitely the best O-line in the NFC South. Securing Jake Matthews to a new contract was huge. The addition of Centre, Alex Mack, from Cleveland was a fantastic move as Mack is one of the best at his position in the league.

With the trio of Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and now Ridley at Wide Receiver, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman at Running Back, it’s easy to see why Atlanta are the only NFC team to have appeared in the last two postseasons. With Matt Ryan finally showing the level of consistency required if he is to be classed as one of the games elite, then the Falcons are looking good to be fighting it out with the Saints for top spot in the NFC South but don’t be surprised if the both divisional rivals end up dining at the 2018 NFL Post Season party.

Throw in the fact that this year’s Super Bowl will be held in Atlanta in the incredible Mercedes Benz Stadium then the Falcons will have all the motivation required to finally land the big one.

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