clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2015 NFL Power Rankings #18: Atlanta Falcons

New, comment

The Falcons might have a new coach, but they have a foundation for success in place.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Disclaimer: I am not a professional or a psychic. Your guess is as good as mine, unless it's something crazy.

2014 Record: 6-10

Cuts: Steven Jackson, Harry Douglas, Justin Blalock, Jonathan Massaquoi

Losses: Jaquizz Rodgers, Dwight Lowery, Robert McClain, Bear Pascoe, Javier Arenas, Sean Weatherspoon, Josh Wilson

Signings: Rex Grossman, Justin Durant, Brooks Reed, Leonard Hankerson, O'Brien Schofield, Jacob Tamme, Chris Chester

Draft Class: Vic Beasley, Jalen Collins, Tevin Coleman, Justin Hardy, Grady Jarrett, Jake Rodgers, Akeem King

New Coach: Dan Quinn

Questions:

Can the Falcons field a competent offensive line and run game?

Can the Falcons generate a pass rush?

Defense:

The Falcons pass rush was abysmal in 2014, as Kroy Biermann led the team in sacks with 4.5. But the Falcons latest investments should rectify that issue. They drafted an immensely talented pass rusher in Vic Beasley and they also took defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. They signed veteran players O'Brien Schofield, Justin Durant, Brooks Reed, and Adrian Clayborn to provide some depth. These defensive additions, along with the defensive knowledge of Dan Quinn, should give the Falcons a sizeable upgrade over their toothless pass rush. The new and improved pass rush should allow a talented Falcons secondary to show their talents. Robert Alford has the talent to be a top corner and Dezmond Trufant and Jalen Collins should be quality supporting pieces. William Moore should be a quality strong safety, if he can stay healthy and Ricardo Allen has the potential to be a quality free safety with his skills. The Falcons defense should at least be mediocre instead of awful this season.

Offense:

The Falcons need the offensive line to play better if they want their rushing attack to improve and if they want to keep Matt Ryan safe. Hopefully Jake Matthews will start to play like a franchise left tackle and Kyle Shanahan's touch on offense should stabilize the line. If that's true, then the Falcons should have a nice rushing attack with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. As always, the Falcons have plenty of talent in the passing game. They have a Pro Bowl receiver in Julio Jones and a solid number two in Roddy White, (granted, they need to stay healthy at the same time) and they have a nice cast of supplemental receivers in Eric Weems, Devin Hester, Leonard Hankerson, and rookie Justin Hardy. The Falcons also signed Jacob Tamme. who should be a better receiving tight end than Levine Toilolo.

Best Case Scenario:

The Falcons offensive line can protect Matt Ryan and jumpstart the Falcons run game. The defense can stop opponents from running all over them and show some ability to get to the passer.

Worst Case Scenario:

The Falcons can't protect Matt Ryan or establish a run game. The defense stays weak and the path back to relevance is a long and slow one for the Falcons.

Predictions:

The Falcons allow only 28 sacks.

The Falcons defense gets 37 sacks and 9 Interceptions. It ranks 19th against the run.

Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combine to have 1,600 yards and 12 Touchdowns running.

Matt Ryan throws for 4,000 yards, 31 Touchdowns and 13 Interceptions.

Vic Beasley has 11 sacks, 3 Interceptions and wins Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Julio Jones and Roddy White both have 1,000 yard seasons again.

Jacob Tamme has 500 yards receiving.

Wins:

Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers , Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts

Losses:

Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings

Predicted Record: 8-8

#19: Minnesota Vikings

#20: New York Giants

#21: New Orleans Saints

#22: New York Jets

#23: St. Louis Rams

#24: Oakland Raiders

#25: Jacksonville Jaguars

#26: Chicago Bears

#27: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

#28: Cleveland Browns

#29: Houston Texans

#30: San Francisco 49ers

#31: Tennessee Titans

#32: Washington Redskins