2012 Record: 13-3; 1st Place
2013 Prediction: 12-4
Confidence in Pick: 50%
Losses: John Abraham, Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson, Tyson Clabo
Pickups: Steven Jackson, Osi Umenyiora, Desmond Trufant
Reasons for Optimism:
Julio Jones – At 6’3” 220lbs, Jones is a big and physical receiver and one of the top 5 WRs in the league. In his 2 years in the league, Jones has 133 catches, 2,157 yards and 18 TDs, yet, in terms of yards and catches, was only #2 on his own team. Jones and White make up the most dynamic WR duo in the game right now.
Tony Gonzalez – If the most dynamic WR duo wasn’t enough, the Falcons also feature the best TE in NFL history (yards, receptions and TDs). Tony Gonzalez is the active leader in receptions, yards and receiving TDs…not for TEs, for all players. The scary part is he doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. In 2012, at age 36, Gonzalez had 93 catches, 930 yards and 10 TDS. The guy is a physical wonder.
The Passing Attack as a Whole – I am not a huge Matt Ryan fan, but he is good and when you give him Jones, White and Gonzalez, he is really good. With a 4,700+ yard QB, 3 players with 79+ catches and 930+ yards, this passing attack is impossible to shut down. In 2013, they add a good receiving back in Jackson (407 career receptions) to make things even more difficult for defenses.
Steven Jackson – In 2012 the Falcons had the #6 passing offense, but just the 29th ranked rush offense. The Falcons as a team rushed for 1,397 yards. So, they went out and added the active leader in rushing yards. Jackson, for his career, averages 1,126 yards by himself. If covering Jones, White and Gonzalez wasn’t enough, now teams have to worry about Jackson.