Last year, the Falcons went 8-8 against the spread. They had a 7-9 record in 2019 and finished second in the NFC South for the second consecutive season. Under head coach Dan Quinn, the Falcons have two playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, the first of those two postseasons ended in the dreaded New England Patriots comeback. The Falcons and their fans have nightmares of the 28-3 lead from Super Bowl LI, as they have lost 16- and 19-point leads already this season through just three games.
The 2020 season is the first year that the Falcons had started the season 0-3 since 2007, which was the year before Atlanta picked Matt Ryan with the third overall selection in the draft. The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback and 2016 NFL MVP had a career record of 109-80 in his first 12 seasons in the league. Last year, Ryan threw for a league-high 408 completions, but his offensive line was not helpful, as he took an NFL-worst 48 sacks.
Quinn is on the hot seat as he is on pace to miss the postseason for the third consecutive year. The most significant part of the Falcons season’s beginning included a mental blunder by the team on an onside kick against the Dallas Cowboys. After a furious Cowboys comeback that brought Dallas within two points of Atlanta, Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein completed what became known as the “Watermelon Kick.” Falcons special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica blamed the team’s failure to recover the onside kick, but it may affect Quinn more than Kotwica.
Quinn needs to turn around his defense with the Falcons losing a couple of winnable games early in the 2020 season. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris is the Falcons defensive coordinator in his first year after spending the previous five years as the assistant head coach in Atlanta. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they have just one top-10 defense in the last seven seasons. If they cannot bounce back from the poor start to the season, then the Falcons could have a new head coach in 2021.
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2020 Falcons Draft Picks
A.J. Terrell, CB (Clemson)
Marlon Davidson, DT (Auburn)
Matt Hennessy, C (Temple)
Mykal Walker, LB (Fresno State)
Jaylinn Hawkins, S (California)
Sterling Hofrichter, P (Syracuse)
Notable Other New Faces for the Falcons
Todd Gurley, RB
Hayden Hurst, TE
Dante Fowler, DE
Charles Harris, DE
LaRoy Reynolds, LB
Darqueze Dennard, CB
Notable Falcons in New Places
Devonta Freeman, RB – New York Giants
Austin Hooper, TE – Cleveland Browns
Wes Schweitzer, OG – Washington Football Team
Adrian Clayborn, DE – Cleveland Browns
Jack Crawford, DE – Tennessee Titans
Vic Beasley, LB – Tennessee Titans
De’Vondre Campbell, LB – Arizona Cardinals
Desmond Trufant, CB – Detroit Lions
Ryan Allen, P – released
Notable Falcons on the Injury Report
Russell Gage, WR – questionable for Week 4 with a head injury
Julio Jones, WR – questionable for Week 4 with a hamstring injury
Kaleb McGary, OT – questionable for Week 4 with a knee injury
Grady Jarrett, DT – questionable for Week 4 with a hip injury
Takkarist McKinley, DE – questionable for Week 4 with a groin injury
Foye Oluokun LB – questionable for Week 4 with a hamstring injury
Kendall Sheffield, CB – questionable for Week 4 with a foot injury
Darqueze Dennard, CB – placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury
A.J. Terrell, CB – placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list
Ricardo Allen, FS – questionable for Week 4 with an elbow injury
Younghoe Koo, K – doubtful for Week 4 with a groin injury
Falcons Who Have Opted Out of 2020 NFL Season
None; one of three teams to not have a player opt-out: Steelers and Chargers
Falcons Offense Predictions
Matt Ryan is still searching for his first Super Bowl, and 2020 is not looking like it will produce one for the Falcons. Through three games, the Atlanta offense has succeeded, and most of the success has been because of Ryan, who has thrown for 961 passing yards, seven passing touchdowns, and just two interceptions. Ryan has been sacked only five times after the offensive line did not do him any favors in 2018 or 2019.
Falcons Running Backs: 26-Year-Old Todd Gurley Is Trying to Show the NFL World That He Can Still Contribute as a Lead Back
Todd Gurley, a 2015 first-round pick, was released by the Los Angeles Rams in March, and less than a month later, the Falcons scooped him up with a one-year, $6 million contract. The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro selection led the NFL in rushing and total touchdowns in both 2017 and 2018. In his last year with the Rams (2019), he scored 14 rushing and receiving touchdowns. In just three games in 2020, Gurley ran 49 times for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Ryan has yet to involve Gurley in the passing game, as the running back has just three receptions for three yards early in the season.
Falcons Wide Receivers: Can Calvin Ridley Lead the NFL in Receiving Yards or Touchdowns This Season?
Calvin Ridley is looking like one of the best wide receivers in the league, as he has 21 receptions for 349 yards and four touchdowns through just three games. With Julio Jones nursing a hamstring injury, Ridley took over once again. He created space against the Chicago Bears secondary in Week 3 and continued his tremendous 2020 performance. After fellow wide receiver Russell Gage left Week 3 early with a concussion, Ridley finished the contest with 22 yards per reception. However, it was the first game of the season in which he did not score a touchdown. Matt Ryan also missed on eight of his targets to Ridley. The Falcons hope to have their receiving group healthy for Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.
Falcons Tight Ends: Will Hayden Hurst Not Only Have a Career Year but Also Double His Counting Statistics From 2019?
In March, the Falcons acquired tight end Hayden Hurst, as a part of a swap of draft picks with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens selected running back J.K. Dobbins with the No. 55 overall selection that they received from Atlanta. In 2019, Hurst caught 30 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns. The 2018 first-round selection is already on pace to set career highs across the board in 2020. Through three games, Hurst has nine receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
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Falcons Defense Predictions
The Falcons need a lot of help on defense, especially with their injury-riddled secondary. The defense will be getting back second-year cornerback Jordan Miller, who was suspended for the first three weeks of the season for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Atlanta hopes he can be a boost for the league’s worst defense.
Veteran cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who has one of the Falcons’ two interceptions early in the season, will be out for a while. He played 96 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in Week 2 and 94 percent in Week 3. He and third-year cornerback Isaiah Oliver are the top two on the team in passes defended. Meanwhile, 2019 Pro Bowl defensive tackle Grady Jarrett leads the team with 2.5 sacks, but he is also dealing with an injury. A hip issue forced him to leave Week 3 early, and he may miss Week 4.
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Falcons Special Teams Predictions
Kicker Younghoe Koo, who went undrafted in 2017, fought his way through an injury to have another high-scoring performance in Week 3. Koo ranks sixth in points scored (30) and third in field goals made (eight) this season, but he may miss multiple weeks due to a groin injury. In the first two weeks of the season, Koo had missed just one kick – an extra point – which occurred in Week 1. After being perfect on kicks in Week 2, he missed his first field goal of the season and missed an additional extra point in Week 3.
With Koo out, rookie punter Sterling Hofrichter may step in and kick for the Falcons. During his time at Syracuse, Hofrichter made three field goals in four attempts. He also made his only extra point of his college career. The Falcons are considering other options like former Alliance of American Football kicker Elliott Fry and free-agent veteran kicker Kai Forbath.
Falcons Head Coach Predictions
Head coach Dan Quinn enters his fifth season as the Falcons head coach, and he is hoping to avoid seeing his career record drop below .500. After beginning his Falcons coaching career with a 29-19 (.604) record, his winning percentage has dropped to .518. If Quinn can find any way to bring his Seattle defensive secrets to this year’s Falcons team, he needs to do it as soon as possible to save his job.
Before heading to Atlanta, Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, and he was a part of the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seahawks. Seattle became the fourth NFL franchise he coached for, and he had two stints with the team. His “Legion of Boom” on defense was the best in the league in 2013 and 2014.
Falcons Predictions for Week 4
The Falcons opened as a five-point underdog against the 3-0 Packers for Monday night’s contest. Atlanta has become a seven-point underdog, and 7.5 points favor the Packers in some books. While Matt Ryan has more completions and passing yards than Aaron Rodgers this season, Rodgers has done it in winning fashion. Unfortunately, there is not much value with betting the Falcons because of Green Bay’s impressive offense. Rodgers and Aaron Jones have been a fantastic duo, as they have steamrolled defenses to the tune of a league-best 40.7 points per game. Both teams have positive turnover differentials: the Packers are plus three while the Falcons are plus two. If Atlanta wants a chance to win this contest, Dan Quinn’s squad will need to win the turnover battle in Week 4.
Falcons Predictions for 2020 Season
The Falcons opened the season was a 2020 over/under of 7.5 wins, and they still can reach a .500 record in 2020. Atlanta continues to underachieve early in the season, and they are doing so in the second half of games, especially on defense. For the team to improve, Julio Jones and the defense need to get healthier. If so, they may be able to turn around this season. Atlanta’s +13000 Super Bowl futures bet is among the worst 10 teams in the league. They may have the best chance to make the playoffs out of the NFL’s bottom feeders. Therefore, for those who think Matt Ryan can soon turn around the 2020 season, the bet could retain some value and be worth a shot.
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