The Atlanta Falcons stand at a 7-game over/under as of April 2021. But are they a good bet for the over, or are you wiser betting the under?
The Falcons have certainly struggled in recent years to hit the over if we’re looking at recent history. Over the past two seasons, they have gone 7-9 and 4-12. And now, the team has a new coach, a new regime, and a new direction.
They’re in certain rebuilding mode, even if quarterback Matt Ryan is still the man in the driver’s seat. However, they have recently traded Julio Jones. And they also have a lot of holes to fill.
Ryan can lead this young Falcons team to overachieve and perhaps scrape an 8-9 record. And he also has help coming from rookie Kyle Pitts.
Let’s see if it will be enough.
State of the Atlanta Falcons
Without Julio Jobes, the Falcons have two phenomenal pass catchers in Calvin Ridley and rookie Kyle Pitts. Say what you will about Pitts having not played a single down in the NFL. It’s irrelevant. Pitts was one of the highest-rated draft prospects at his position of all time, and if it wasn’t for Trevor Lawrence, odds are he’d have been the highest rated player in the draft.
However, the Falcons remain weak at running back, with Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson looking to lead a patchwork unit behind an offensive line that has seen better days.
The Falcons also allowed 414 points in 2020, enough for 25.8 points per game. It’s not the statistic they were looking for by any means. And the defense still lacks noteworthy names outside of Grady Jarrett.
They hoped Dante Fowler would further improve the pass rush following his 2019 campaign in Los Angeles in which he registered 11.5 sacks. But he sputtered in 2020 with just 3 sacks. In the secondary, then-rookie A.J. Terrell was up and down, but showed his physicality with 74 tackles.
Overall, the Falcons don’t appear to have done enough to be a good bet to win the NFC South or to make the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean they’re out of it for the over/under, as the next section will discuss.
Strengths of the Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons offense will always threaten with Matt Ryan in charge at quarterback. Ryan, despite his status as an aging veteran, still produces at a high level. And with names like Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts, expect him to continue to put up gaudy numbers even with Jones’ departure.
Pitts is just one reason Ryan shouldn’t feel too much pain during the transition from Jones. Russell Gage is another, considering his productive 2020 season in which he logged 72 receptions, 786 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
Also, don’t forget Hayden Hurst. Hurst has not lived up to expectations, but he played well when called upon as the TE1 in Atlanta, logging 56 receptions for 571 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Falcons could also have something along the defensive line. Grady Jarrett made the Pro Bowl in 2020, and Dante Fowler is just one season removed from his 11.5-sack campaign. If Fowler gets it together, the Falcons could put together a formidable pass rush.
Weaknesses of the Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are bad at just about every other sector. Let’s start with running back, where neither Mike Davis nor Cordarrelle Patterson figure to factor in as serious long-term fixtures. Davis gained 642 rushing yards in 2020 but averaged just 3.9 yards per carry.
He is, however, a strength in the passing game, having logged 59 receptions, 373 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
Patterson is a Swiss Army Knife, but he’s a dull one at best. His strength remains as a return man, and he’s often a non-factor in the running or passing games.
Besides Jake Matthews, no one on the Atlanta Falcons offensive line appears to be ready to light up the league. And even Matthews has been up and down throughout his career in Atlanta. You may see a lot of changes coming to the Falcon’s offensive line if the group struggles early.
But those changes could revert the weakness back into a strength. The team drafted Drew Dalman in the fourth round and Jalen Mayfield in the third round. Also, 2019 first-round pick Chris Lindstrom picked it up in 2020. If he further improves, the Falcons offensive line may belong in the above section.
When You Give Up Over 400 Points, It Means Your Defense Struggles
And the Falcons defense looks no closer to improvement than they did this time last season. Terrell must get more consistent, and second-round pick Richie Grant must immediately step in and produce.
Deion Jones leads an otherwise weak linebacking unit comprising journeyman Barkevious Mingo and Foyesade Oluokun. If Oluokun, who despite putting up good statistics in 2020 can make more tackles before opponents get downfield, it may also shift the unit into a strength.
Overall, the Falcons have a lot of weaknesses. But ironically, these weaknesses breed potential in all three position groups. A lot of “if”s exist and it’s rarely if ever a good idea to wager on those.
Schedule of the Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons finished last in the AFC South in 2020. Therefore, they will play the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Jacksonville Jaguars as uncommon opponents. The Falcons will have a tough time with the 49ers, but they have much more firepower than the Lions.
Look for the team to split either 1-2 on the low end, or 2-1 on the high end. The Falcons can beat the Jaguars, but the team can also make the leap faster with rookie Trevor Lawrence leading a young group full of potential.
Common opponents include the NFC East and AFC East. The Falcons match well against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. But they’re on about the same level as the Giants. They’re also behind Washington and the Dallas Cowboys from a talent standpoint.
For a realistic estimate, the Falcons will bottom out at 1-3, and could end up 2-2 if they sneak one by the Giants.
The AFC East comprises three teams who will threaten the playoffs in the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins. Expect the Falcons to have a tough time with all three teams, and odds are, they will fall. However, they should beat the New York Jets. Project a 1-3 record against their common AFC opponents.
The Falcons are not good enough to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints. Sure, they can take one from either. But again, we’re making realistic estimates here. Expect a sweep, and at best, a split against one of the teams.
Against the Carolina Panthers, they could also sweep the for the ceiling or split for the floor, but realistically, they can take one game from their weaker NFC South rival.
Project a ceiling of -3 and a floor of 1-5 against the NFC South.
Are the Atlanta Falcons Good Enough for the Over?
Let’s look at the floor, where they would realistically win one game against uncommon opponents, two games against common opponents, and one against the NFC South, which places them at 4-13.
If we look at their realistic ceiling, expect two wins against uncommon opponents, three against common opponents, and three against the NFC South, which will place them at 8-9. So, can it happen?
If we’re looking at a realistic floor of four games but a realistic ceiling, it can—but barely.
For the Falcons to become a good bet for the over, their offensive line and overall defensive unit must improve. Judging by their weaknesses, it’s possible. But the units have shown little over the past season for you as a bettor to realistically place your bet for the over at NFL betting sites.
If you’re cool with taking risks, then the Falcons may be an okay bet for the over. But if you’re more conservative with your betting, odds are you will bet on the Falcons to take the under. Overall, it depends whether you’re a high-risk, high-reward bettor, or a lower-risk, lower-reward type.
The Atlanta Falcons are the classic high-risk, high-reward over/under bet. This is a weak football team when you look at their defense, offensive backfield, and offensive line.
However, they have perhaps more talent than any other team in the passing game, even without Julio Jones sticking around. So, expect the Falcons to at least compete against most of their opponents.
The question remains whether the defense can hold. If last season showed us anything, it’s that it’s incapable of holding even the largest leads. Perhaps the new coaching staff will change things.
What are your thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons? Do they make a good bet for the over in 2021, or do you agree that it’s wiser to bet the Under unless you’re someone who likes to bet on the edge? Let us know in the comments.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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