Atlanta Falcons Shock
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The NFL season is well underway, and while it’s too early to start talking about which teams will make the playoffs, let’s talk about one team that has absolutely no chance of making the playoffs and how they can actually end up making the playoffs at the end of the season. That team? The Atlanta Falcons. While you might think it impossible that a team as bad as the Falcons can make the playoffs, their 5-4 record doesn’t tell the full story of their 2018 season thus far.

Regular Season

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a disappointing 2017-2018 season that saw them finish with a 6-10 record and miss the playoffs for the second straight year.

The front office showed some faith in head coach Dan Quinn by giving him a contract extension, but how long will Quinn last if his team doesn’t make this year’s post season? In order to answer this question, it’s important to look at what changes have been made to the roster so far this offseason.

The big move was releasing running back Devonta Freeman and safety Ricardo Allen in order to free up some cap space.

That freed up $11 million of cap room, which was then used to re-sign linebacker Deion Jones and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.

I don’t think it is too much of an exaggeration to say that these two players were the heart and soul of the Atlanta defense last season, so it would be hard to see Atlanta not making the playoffs because they were able to keep these two players around.

Sure, they lost Vic Beasley Jr., who led the league in sacks just two seasons ago when he had 15.5 sacks on his way to winning Defensive Player of the Year honors.

But remember this is not your father’s Falcons defense anymore; 2018 has seen Atlanta switch from their traditional 4-3 scheme into more of a 3-4 scheme under new coordinator Smith.

Atlanta also brought in Brandon Fusco and Ryan Jensen as offensive linemen to solidify the offensive line.

Alongside those moves Atlanta traded for wide receiver Calvin Ridley, drafted tight end Austin Hooper, guard Isaiah Wynn (New England Patriots), safety Terrell Edmunds (Pittsburgh Steelers), and cornerback Carlton Davis (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

The Falcons now boast one of the most talented rosters in football on both sides of the ball.

One thing we can all agree on is that this could go either way: Atlanta could easily find themselves right back where they left off as a bad team or make a surprise playoff run.

It is tough to tell which direction Atlanta might go without knowing what kind of QB play we get out of Matt Ryan this season. Some people seem convinced that Matt Ryan regressed because the Falcons no longer have Julio Jones.

We need to remember though that Ryan has always been a top 10 quarterback and isn’t solely dependent on one player like many other QBs in the league today.

If Atlanta gets hot, there won’t be any stopping them from making a deep playoff run like Daboll did with the Giants last year -but if Atlanta goes cold early, don’t expect anything better than 5 wins again like last season.

5 Reasons Why Atlanta Falcons Make the Playoffs

  1. While most expect the New York Giants’ improved play this season to have Brian Daboll behind it, it’s hard to ignore the job Arthur Smith has done with the Atlanta Falcons so far.
  2. This team has a lot of heart, but it needs to put together some wins. It’s not out of reach for them to make a playoff push in this tough NFC South division
  3. Atlanta still has an outside chance at a wild card spot if they can keep playing like they did against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh
  4. The defense is coming around as well which bodes well for Atlanta making a late season run . Desmond Trufant was one of the best cornerbacks in the league last year before his injury and Keanu Neal seems to be maturing quickly into one of the better safeties.
  5. Offensively Atlanta could have one of the best young running backs in football next year (if they re-sign Tevin Coleman). Plus Matt Ryan continues to get better every year and Julio Jones is maybe the best receiver alive (in my opinion)

Reasons Why They Could Miss Out

The Atlanta Falcons have been a surprise this season. They’ve won six games, three of which were against pretty good teams in the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles.

But they’ve also lost six games and are currently 6-6 on the year.

If they do win out, their record would be 10-6, but that would only get them to second place in their division behind New Orleans Saints who are currently 11-4. The Saints will have tiebreaker over them if both teams end up with 10 wins.

And even if Atlanta does make it, there is no guarantee they can win more than two playoff games. Atlanta has just a 1% chance to make the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight.

ESPN gives them a 7% chance. ESPN predicts Atlanta will miss the playoffs by one game.

There’s still time for things to change though; Atlanta must go 4-0 and hope New Orleans goes 2-2 down the stretch.

One thing’s for sure: if Atlanta doesn’t make the playoffs, 2018 will go down as one of its most disappointing seasons ever.

Championship Odds

The Atlanta Falcons are in 12th place in their division, but with a five-game winning streak, they now have an 8% chance of making the playoffs.

The odds that the Atlanta Falcons make it to the playoffs are 3 times better than before.

The Atlanta Falcons will be rolling out into Dallas this weekend for a showdown against Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot and if they can get past them there’s no telling what might happen.

With Matt Ryan playing at an MVP level and Brian Daboll doing some coaching magic with Odell Beckham Jr., is it too farfetched to think that Atlanta might shock the league with their current trajectory?

The Atlanta Falcons have been pretty much written off since drafting rookie linebacker Brian Burns (who’s playing pretty well).

And while fans aren’t taking on any big bets as far as Atlanta making it to the Super Bowl, people in Las Vegas believe more than ever in them reaching the postseason.

It’ll all depend on how they match up against Dallas, Chicago and New Orleans, which are three really tough opponents remaining on their schedule.

But it seems like they’re finally getting healthy and clicking on offense just in time to make a playoff push. They’ve won five games in a row, including two weeks ago when Adrian Clayborn sacked Eli Manning and got him fuming mad.

They went for two, kicking the ball back to Atlanta where Taylor Gabriel took one step back into the end zone after he had broken free from Janoris Jenkins’ tackle attempt.

In other words, Atlanta has found its swagger again – something which was conspicuously missing early in the season even when things were going so well for them.

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