Atlanta Falcons: Is This Team Good or Lucky?


The Atlanta Falcons are a strong 6-1 entering Week 8 of the 2015 NFL Season. However, with so many bad teams in the league, is Atlanta good or just lucky?

Through the first seven weeks of the 2015 NFL Season, I cannot recall a time since realignment that the league has been so bottom-heavy. Look no further than the AFC South. In my eyes, this division might actually be worse than the 2014 NFC South. The Indianapolis Colts may only win division games this year and win the worst division in football with a 6-10 record. Congratulations, Indy!

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It’s not just the AFC South, as most of the league is down. Who thought that the Baltimore Ravens and the Detroit Lions would both sit at 1-6 entering Week 8? These were teams that were sure-fired playoff teams to start the year, right?

Only 11 teams are above .500 at this point in the season. Fortunately our Atlanta Falcons are one of those 11 teams. However, I have to wonder if this team is as good as we think it is or are the Atlanta Falcons the best of the mediocre teams in football?

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Sweeping the NFC East is at least respectable. It’s not as bad as the AFC South, but the NFC East and the AFC West aren’t exactly filled with world beaters. The Atlanta Falcons are 2-0 against arguably the two worst teams in the AFC South in the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans. The Colts are slightly better and should win the dismal division yet again. Perhaps Jacksonville accelerates in the second half to contend with the Colts. However, the Jags only improved to 2-5 this past week in London.

The Atlanta Falcons’ only loss is understandable: a Thursday Night road game against your biggest rival, the New Orleans Saints. TNF heavily favors the home team because of travel, as the visitor has maybe a day and a half at their own facilities before visiting their familiar foe. Plus at 3-4, the Saints aren’t looking as bad as they did to start the year. I don’t see them as a contender, but they can certainly shatter others’ playoff dreams in the NFC.

The truth is one can nitpick all 11 teams that are over .500 and question if that team is good, too. Denver’s offense is decaying rapidly with a rapidly decaying Peyton Manning under center. Who exactly plays offensive line for the New England Patriots? Tell me who Cam Newton’s second favorite receiving target is on the Carolina Panthers. Green Bay gave up over 500 yards passing to Philip Rivers and the hapless San Diego Chargers. What happens if someone is able to get pressure on Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton?

Those are the five remaining undefeated teams in football and I’m not awestruck by any of them. The other six above .500 teams include the Atlanta Falcons (6-1), Arizona Cardinals (5-2), Minnesota Vikings (4-2), New York Jets (4-2), New York Giants (4-3) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3). These are all nice teams and should factor into the NFL Playoffs down the stretch, but aren’t Super Bowl favorites either.

However, do the Atlanta Falcons have the pieces on their roster to separate themselves from the pack and earn  a playoff spot in 2015? At 6-1 and not playing their best football yet, I would have to certainly say so.

Players are emerging as Pro Bowl caliber players on both sides of the football. Devonta Freeman has been a revelation at tailback for the Atlanta Falcons. The defense is starting to solidify in the back-end and once the pass rush gets there, look out, NFC. Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan have not been on the same page since the Texans’ game in Week 4. Let’s be real, Houston could very well be the worst team in football. How does Bill O’Brien’s club have two wins already?

With the Atlanta Falcons owning the 5th best offense in football (9th passing, 5th rushing) and the 13th best defense (total yards allowed), it’s hard to argue that the Falcons have not played well with regards to the rest of the league through the first seven weeks. The NFL may have a ton of bad teams at the moment, but the Atlanta Falcons surely aren’t one of them.

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This year’s team should make the playoffs. At 6-1 with only three games remaining against teams that are currently over .500 (Carolina twice and a home date with Minnesota), this Atlanta Falcons team will finish no worse than 10-6. That should stand as a big enough buffer to get the Dirty Birds at worst the second Wild Card spot in the NFC.

Unless the Vikings falter down the stretch and the Rams or Seahawks get hot, the NFC South and the NFC North get the two Wild Card spots in 2015. I’d love to see a Atlanta Falcons/Carolina Panthers rivalry playoff game. For now, all the Dirty Birds can do is continue to navigate their soft schedule en route to the postseason. Next up is division rival Tampa Bay at home on Sunday. Rise Up!

Next: Atlanta Falcons: 4 Observations From Win Over Titans

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