While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the Atlanta Falcons.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
It's hard to find any bright spots in Atlanta's performance in 2021. The only teams they beat were the bottom tier teams in the league and their defense was one of the worst in all aspects. I guess it's a win that they didn't finish last in their division, but after this offseason, we might not be able to say the same after 2022.
Significant Roster Moves
The Falcons made waves in the offseason by trading long-time QB Matt Ryan to the Colts. They seemingly also got rid of everyone else on the roster judging by the list of "Losses" above. However, they did find some decent replacements for the guys they lost, with Lorenzo Carter, Rashaan Evans, and Casey Hayward hoping to help improve the miserable defense from last season.
Atlanta signed Marcus Mariota who is expected to be the Week 1 starter, and he'll get what may be his final chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The Falcons attempted to bring in some weapons for him, but I'm not particularly impressed with any of the receivers listed above.
2022 Draft Class
The Falcons had eight selections in this year's draft, using them to fill depth at multiple positions. The most exciting prospect is their first-round pick Drake London, who will enter his first season as the team's best wide receiver with Calvin Ridley sidelined for the season.
Atlanta also decided to draft Desmond Ridder, QB from Cincinnati in the third round. They're hoping that Mariota can play well enough to give Ridder a year to learn behind him, though he might get thrown into the fire earlier than expected depending on how the season goes.
The Falcons will take on the NFC West and the AFC North to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears, and Washington Commanders. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .524, Atlanta has the 9th hardest schedule in the NFL.
Atlanta's lone primetime game is a Thursday night game at Carolina. They will also play on Saturday, Christmas Eve in Week 16 at Baltimore.
The Falcons return 13 of their 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago, which is in the bottom tier among all teams in the league. The offensive trio of Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London should find some success as long as Marcus Mariota is serviceable at quarterback. There will be a lot of fresh faces on the defense, which is probably a good thing for this Falcons team.
Arthur Smith enters his second season as head coach of the Falcons after a less than desirable debut season in 2021. All three coordinators were hired by Smith in 2021 and will begin their second seasons with the team in their respective positions as well.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for Atlanta at 5 games. As of right now, they are the least likely team to win either their division or conference by a wide margin. At +20000 to win the 2023 Super Bowl they are 31st among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
I'm expecting the Falcons to regress in 2022 as they deal with a new, less proven quarterback and a tougher slate of opponents. They're one of the few teams who I don't think has improved much at all over the offseason. I just think there are too many question marks on the roster for this team to find many wins this season. I'll predict them to finish last in the division, last in the conference, but perhaps with a chance to secure the #1 overall pick in next year's draft.
What do you think? Will Atlanta be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Falcons surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson
Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.