With the football season right around the corner, the roster/player rankings and team odds have been coming out slowly. For the Falcons, the early rankings and odds show a distinct level of disrespect to a roster that should be poised to do special things, if they can stay healthy. Let’s get into some of these.
NFL.com Top WR Duos in 2019
Gil Brandt, of NFL.com, put a list of his top wide receiver duos in the NFL. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley were 6th on the list. That seems a little low, right? Julio Jones is, arguably, the best and most accomplished WR in all of football. Calvin Ridley, entering his second season, was picked as Julio’s partner, over Mo Sanu, for the thinking that he will have more contributions in his second season. That thinking makes sense when Ridley, as a rookie, had ten touchdowns last season.
Now, the real question is, who’s above the Falcons duo on this list? In the order they are placed, first is Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, then Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, then Tyrek Hill and Sammy Watkins, then Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, and lastly Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. This list shows very little respect to the Falcons and their duo. Looking at this list, I could agree that Julio is on the same level as Beckham, Brown, and Hill, the respective number ones of their teams. Brandin Cooks and Adam Thielen are not better than Julio Jones.
Looking at the second receiver of the duos, Landy, Diggs, Watkins, Woods, and Williams, doesn’t feel like that big of a gap between Ridley and those five other guys. Ridley, in a season, that the Falcons offense was struggling to produce with a lackluster offensive line and no running game, had an incredible first season. The trajectory of Ridley seems to be pointing straight up going into his second season. The same can not be said for Sammy Watkins, Tyrell Williams, and Robert Woods. Ridley is on the same level as those guys and I expect him to surpass those players in the coming season.
Yes, I want to talk about the gambling odds that have been placed on the Falcons going into the 2019 season. Odds are meaningless unless you are a gambler, but they are fun to talk about. In the latest odds to come out, the Falcons have the 9th best odds to win the NFC, behind Green Bay, Dallas, San Francisco, Minnesota, and Chicago. That’s pretty low for a team that won the NFC three years ago and have must of the same core from that Super Bowl run.
Some of these teams in front of Atlanta makes sense to me. I get why Chicago is ahead of Atlanta, but does a team led my Mitchell Tribusky inspire a lot of fear in any team, no matter how historic the defense? What about San Francisco? Jimmy G, the savior in the Bay, is coming off a knee injury that kept him out all season, so does that mean he will be back in time to lead his team to an NFC title before Matt Ryan. Same goes for Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins. Do Dallas and Minnesota fans even believe in Prescott and Cousins? Aaron Rodgers will always get the benefit of the doubt, but that Packers team did not look ready to compete for anything last season.
With all that said, the Falcons did not look like a team that was ready to compete for much of anything coming into the 2019 season. With all the injuries that hit the Falcon in key areas, this team could never be itself last season. The offensive line has been retooled and Devonta Freeman will be back this season. Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen will all be back to action this coming season. This Falcons team will be vastly improved from last season. From all the preseason chatter, the experts and pundits would have you believe this Falcons team is not a team to worry about. Don’t believe it. This Falcons team has a chance to be special this season and everyone seems to be sleeping on this team. That’s as good of a motivator as anything.