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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Atlanta Falcons 2010: Preview and Predictions

Last Years Record: 9-7

Wins: Dolphins, Panthers, 49ers, Bears, Redskins, Buccaneers (2x), Jets, Bills

Losses: Patriots, Cowboys, Saints (2x), Panthers, Giants, Eagles,

Biggest Playmaker: Roddy White

WR, UAB, Drafted #27, six years

White is probably the most underrated receiver in the NFL. Some how he has quietly put up three years of 1000+ yards receiving and 24 TDs is those three years. His numbers have been very comparable to Brandon Marshall, Anquan Boldin, and Chad Ochocinco in the last three years, yet he has not gotten nearly the same amount of attention.

Impact Player: Tony Gonzalez

TE, California, Drafted #13, 14 years

At 34 years old, Gonzalez does not look like he has lost a step and he continues to put up big numbers. Gonzalez is a big target and nice security blanket for young QB Matt Ryan. Look for him to have another 70+ reception, 800+ yards and 5-8 TDs again this year.

Biggest Off-season Addition: Dunta Robinson

CB, South Carolina, Drafted #10, seven years

Last year the Falcons were 28th in the NFL in pass defense letting up 242 yards per game. They made a huge splash by signing Robinson for 57 million. Robinson was clearly the best cornerback available in free agency and has proved he can be a great cover corner and a guy that is not afraid to help out in the run game. Robinson should be a big addition to the Falcons defense.

Biggest Offseason Loss: None

There was not a lot of movement this offseason for the Falcons. They lost some defensive backs, and back up players and traded away offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka, but did not really lose any major parts.

Biggest Draft Steal: Kerry Meier

WR, Kansas, Drafted #165, Rookie

Meier recently went down with a season-ending knee injury but was a good pick up for the Falcons. He is 6’2” 220 lbs. and was reportedly catching everything. He could have been a valuable asset for the Falcons this year. Hopefully he can come in and make an impact next year.

Biggest Draft Mistake: Not Addressing DE

The one area that I thought the Falcons would address in the draft was the defensive end position. Their starting defensive ends last year put up a total of 6 sacks. Jamaal Anderson, the former 8th pick overall in the 2007 draft, has not been the player that they thought he would (2.5 career sacks and he will be playing some DT this year) and John Abraham is 32 and had one of his worst years in 2009. Adding Dunta Robinson will help out the secondary, but having some guys that can constantly pressure the QB may have helped more.

Offseason Grade: B+

Picking up a true #1 corner in Dunta Robinson was obviously huge, and I thought drafting Sean Weatherspoon was a great pick. Weatherspoon is a gamer, who will be a big help in the run game and is one of those guys that will probably be a leader in the locker room by the end of the year.

X-Factor: Michael Turner

RB, Northern Illinois, Drafted #154, seven years

Turner had an unbelievable year in 2008 rushing for 1699 yards and 17 TDs. Last year was off to a good start averaging 4.9 yards per carry but he only played 11 games because he was bother with an ankle injury. If Turner can stay healthy for the whole year the Falcons offense should be very good.

Name You Should Know: Mike Peterson

LB, Florida, Drafted #36, 12 years

Peterson may be 34 but is still very good against the run. He has put up some terrific numbers in his career (1109 tackles, 20.5 sacks and 16 Interceptions) and will be a great first and second down linebacker for the Falcons.

Rising Star: Curtis Lofton

MLB, Oklahoma, Drafted #37, three years

In only two years, Lofton has established himself as one of the best players on the Falcons defense. Lofton made 133 tackles last year and seems to be in every play; many believed he was snubbed in the pro bowl voting last year. With another good year, he could establish himself as a top linebacker in the NFL.

Offensive Outlook: A-

Matt Ryan certainly has the ability to have a breakout year, especially with playmakers like Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez around him. Add in a healthy Michael turner and you are looking at a very good offense.

Defensive Outlook: B-

The defense is still very young so it will be hard to tell exactly what the Falcons will be getting out of them this year. You would have to think that the defense will be a better than last year, which statistically was in the bottom of the league. The biggest question still is their defensive ends, if John Abraham can bounce back from a tough year and they can get some production out of Jamaal Anderson, they should have a very solid defense.

Special Teams Outlook: C

Kick and punt returner Eric Weems is OK in the return game. K Matt Bryant is decent. P Michael Koenen is a solid punter and great kick off specialist.

Projected 2010 Record: 11-5

The Falcons should have a very balanced attack on offense that will be hard for any team to match up against. If their defense can play up to its potential they should have no problem winning 11 games. They are fortunate to have a pretty easy schedule. The biggest match-ups have to be the games against the Packers, Bengals, Ravens and two games against the super bowl champions Saints. Other than that, they have some very winnable games.

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